West Virginia Institute of Technology

The West Virginia Institute of Technology’s original campus in Montgomery, West Virginia closed in 2016-17. Portions of the campus are used by a local community and technical college while others are abandoned.

The West Virginia Institute of Technology was founded in 1895 in Montgomery as the sub-collegiate Montgomery Preparatory School for West Virginia University (WVU). 1 6 It quickly grew and the main building was expanded with an east wing in 1897 and a west wing in 1903. 6

In 1917, Montgomery Preparatory School separated from WVU as the state felt that a state secondary school was no longer warranted, and the campus became the West Virginia Trade School. 1 6 The plan was unsuccessful as insufficient students could be secured with the opening of the Montgomery High School, 7 and in March 1921, it became New River State School, a junior college. 6 7 This was a more successful venture, as in September 1920, only 60 students were enrolled in the school. By mid-1921, enrollment had jumped to 345 pupils.

New River State School was bursting at the seams, and a vacated basement and unused space in the attic were converted into dormitory, music, and art rooms. 6 Classrooms were carved out of the auditorium. The former Montgomery Hotel building was repurposed to serve as a male dormitory. Conley Hall was built in 1930 to house the college library, laboratories, classrooms, offices, and a small auditorium, and Mechanical Hall, erected in September 1925, was where shop work was conducted. A wooden building was hastily erected for the chemistry department. An athletic field, containing three acres of turf, was erected on the mountainside.

In 1931, the institution began offering four-year degrees with an emphasis on the training of elementary and secondary school teachers. 6 Faculty apartments were added in 1935 and a fireproof dormitory was added in 1939 between Conley Hall and the Physical Education Building. The Arts and Crafts Building (later the Engineer Building) was constructed in 1940.

New River State School became the West Virginia Institute of Technology (WVIT) in 1941 and began to grant engineering degrees in 1952. 1 6 It added a community college in 1966 and began granting master’s degrees in engineering in 1978. WVIT became a regional campus of WVU in 1996, forming West Virginia University Institute of Technology (WVU Tech). 1 It became an integrated division of WVU in July 2007. 2

WVU Tech had long been beset with declining enrollment by the dawn of the 20th century, owing partly to its remote location and antiquated facilities. In 2011, the state passed the WVU Tech Revitalization Project law in response to shrinking enrollment and financial complications. An assessment of the school over the year identified several specific actions that needed to be undertaken, which ultimately concluded that the campus needed to be moved to a more central location, such as Beckley.

In January 2015, WVU purchased the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley, 3 and formally recommended that WVU Tech move from Montgomery to Beckley in August. The University’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the recommendation in September. For the 2016-17 academic years, freshman courses were taught at the Beckley campus, while all other courses remained in Montgomery. Summer 2017 classes were mostly held online, with all academic programs, administrative offices, and athletic teams moving to Beckley by the fall. 4

Since the relocation to Beckley, enrollment at WVU Tech has increased from 1,106 students in 2017 to 1,622 by spring 2019. 5



  1. General Information – WVU Tech.” West Virginia University Institute of Technology, 2022.
  2. WVU Tech organizational changes announced in advance of merger with WVU.” West Virginia University, 21 Jun. 2007.
  3. Murphy, Matt. “Montgomery residents discuss future of city.” Charleston Gazette-Mail, 27 Jan. 2015.
  4. WVU Beckley will become home to WVU Tech in 2017, WVU Board decides.” WVUToday, 1 Sept. 2015.
  5. WVUIT-Enrollment Comparisons.” West Virginia University.
  6. Holliday, Robert Kelvin. “West Virginia Institute of Technology at Montgomery.” A Portrait of Fayette County, Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, WV, 1960, pp. 121-127.
  7. Donnelly, C. Shirley. “History of West Virginia Tech.” Historical Notes on Fayette County, W. Va., 1958. p. 118-120.

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