On March 30, 1838, Marshall Academy was incorporated in what is now Huntington. The school had been established the previous year as a private school to educate the children of farmers in the region. The first classes were held in a small log church on the knoll where Marshall’s Old Main building now stands.
In 1858, the Virginia Assembly granted college status to Marshall. However, the school closed its doors a little more than two years later when the Civil War began.
It reopened in 1868, primarily to train teachers. But it also prepared students for business and had a primary department for youth. Although its campus and curriculum expanded significantly, by the early 20th century, Marshall was technically only a secondary school. The school introduced the equivalent of college freshman and sophomore courses in 1913 and awarded its first baccalaureate degrees in 1921.
The school grew steadily after World War II. And, in 1961, Marshall was granted university status. Since then, Marshall has grown extensively, adding a school of medicine, modern athletics facilities, a performing arts center, an engineering complex, and a Visual Arts Center.