Erickson Alumni Center, West Virginia Wesleyan College
The former Benson residence, built in 1892, was purchased by the college in 1961. It has housed the Nursing Department, the Art Department, and the United Methodist Archives. Remodeled and restored in 1991, the building is now known as the Erickson Alumni Center.
Backstory and Context
This house, built in 1892 by Jacob Hall, has a long history. A family home for Hall’s family from 1892-1920, all five of his children were able to get a good education just across the street.
Then the house was owned by the William J. Wilson family. Willie Ann (Wilson) Hawkins graduated from Wesleyan in 1935, as did her husband, Buckhannon dentist Robert “Coley” Hawkins (1937). In the early 1940s the house was sold to William Benson.
In 1961 the college purchased the now deteriorating home for $13,500 to house the new Nursing Department. It took some renovations, but the department operated there until Middleton Hall was built in 1972. The Art Department was then housed there until the Fire Marshal decreed the building unsuitable. The Benson House, as it was then known, became the storage facility for the West Virginia Annual Conference Archives until 1992.
Remodeled and restored in 1991 thanks to a gift of $200,000 from philanthropist C.O. Erickson, the building is now known as the Erickson Alumni Center. Erickson, a native West Virginian, believed strongly that higher education was important and that staying connected to the college was also important. He and his foundation have established 13 such alumni centers in West Virginia institutions of higher education.
Miller, Brett T.. Our Home Among the Hills, West Virginia Wesleyan College's First 125 Years. Buckhannon, WV. West Virginia Wesleyan College, 2016.