Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project

 

 
Alpha Sigma Phi House

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Institution Name: Bethany College (WV)
Original/Historic Place Name: Point Breeze Mansion
Location on Campus: Point Breeze Dr.
Date(s) of Construction:
1899construction began; September 1 Giesey & Faris
1900construction completed; ca. September
Designer: Giesey & Faris (Wheeling, WV)
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Victorian, Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education, engineering
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Materials:
Foundation: stone
Walls: dark red pressed brick with stone turnings
Roof: slate and tin on board on joist
 
Function:
1900-1937private residence
1942other (temporary army barracks)
1943-1944other (Zeta Thau Alpha sorority house)
1946other (co-operative home)
1947-1953residence hall (men)
1953-2001other (Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity house)
 

Narrative:
Point Breeze Mansion is built on the site of the Primary and Preparatory Institution built by Alexander Campbell in 1842-1843. The Primary and Preparatory Institution included the family mansion house, a school house for the primary department, and outbuildings. This complex was situated on ten acres of property that came to be known as the Point Breeze Farm. The mansion house was a large two-story brick structure with a basement. It was used as a home and dormitory for the students, the teachers, and the Bryant family, and one of the buildings was a two-story brick used for classrooms and recitation. The school operated from the fall session of 1843 until the end of the academic year 1852. It had been part of Campbell's larger vision of "Four Institutions in One." The Mansion House was designed to provide space for 25 boys, a matron, and a patron. Financing the school was less a problem than its management, and finally the school was dissolved in 1852.

Alexander Campbell, Jr., the son of Alexander Campbell, was educated in the Family School and graduated from Bethany College on July 4, 1852. During his college career, his father had placed him in charge of several of the family farms, with special responsibilities in sheep breeding and rearing. When he returned from Louisiana after the Civil War, Alex, Jr. was given the Point Breeze Farm. He restocked the family farms after the death of his father in 1866 and continued farming and sheep growing until 1888, but with little success. Ultimately, this led to the end of Colonel Alexander Campbell, Jr.'s tenure on the farm, and he moved to a cottage across the road, the home of his son-in-law, Barton Campbell Hagerman, now known as the Huff house. Colonel Alex found it necessary to dispose of the property.

William H. Nave, a graduate of Bethany in 1863, and the spouse of Jessica Campbell (daughter of Archibald W. Campbell, editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer, and grand-niece of Alexander Campbell) purchased the property in the summer of 1899, tore down the old family mansion house, and had the present Point Breeze Mansion erected on the site. The grounds then included 15 acres. He improved the farm buildings and built a dam in front of the house to make a lake 300 feet long and 150 feet wide. Water for the lake came from a natural spring and provided water for the house. Entrance to the mansion was on West Drive, between two stone gate pillars with elaborately decorated grillwork gates. At the rear of the house were a servant's house, a smokehouse, and a necessary.

Nave died in 1905, but the house and farm continued to be owned and occupied by the family until 1937, at which time Bethany College purchased the property. The farm land was used for Bethany's athletic and recreation fields, for faculty homes and apartments built on Point Breeze and Logan Court, and for the Millsop Leadership Center, Harder Hall, and Gresham Inn complex. The Point Breeze Mansion was used for many college purposes after 1937, including an inn, a tearoom, a sorority house, temporary barracks, married housing for GI's returning to school, and a men's dormitory. Finally, it was sold to Alpha Sigma Phi and used as a college fraternity house. Today the building is in need of restoration and repair and is currently unoccupied.
 

References:

Browne, Henry J. Bethany Historic District [including Bethany College (WV)]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1982.

Carney, Brent. Bethany College. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2004.

Woolery, William Kirk. Bethany Years: The Story of Old Bethany from Her Founding Years through a Century of Trial and Triumph. Huntington, WV: Standard Printing and Publishing, 1941.

 

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