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Bye Arnold!

Old Arnold Hall

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & Regional History Center, WVU Libraries.

WRITTEN BY  BECKY LOFSTEAD

Have you ever had to say goodbye to an old friend? It can be emotional. The experience can bring back a flood of memories and occupy a special place in your heart. 

Those sentiments came rolling in as readers began recalling their days with an old friend they knew as Arnold Hall — their “home away from home” during college days.

Situated on the Downtown Campus, Arnold Hall has housed over 35,000 students since opening its doors in 1957 (apartments were added three years later). 

The seven-story brown brick residence hall on upper Price Street was originally an all-women’s dorm, named for former Dean of Women Edna Arnold. It became coed in the 1980s. 

The stately 60-year-old structure closed its doors for a final time this spring due to its aging condition and to address student demand for more modern amenities.

In the meantime, Arnold Hall will live on in the hearts and minds of many as you can tell from these interesting and memorable quips and stories readers sent us.

'A first taste of the world'

A first taste of the world

Roommates Mandy Wong, of Hong Kong, and Barbara dos Santos, of Brazil, paint a mural together at Arnold Hall.


Barbara dos Santos, MA ’15, Political Science, was a 21-year-old from Brazil when she first came to WVU. It was also her first time abroad.

On the top floor of Arnold Hall, she was paired up with a roommate from Hong Kong, Mandy Wong.

“I introduced myself and gave her the Brazilian chocolate box I had brought for her,” she wrote. “She also had gifts for me — a bunch of Chinese knickknacks, red and pretty. We immediately clicked. I didn’t know then, but I was meeting someone who would become my best friend in the entire world!

“In that room we became family. As exchange students, all we had was each other. In that room we danced, we celebrated birthdays, we had our hearts broken, we met new boys, we studied, we watched soccer on the computer screen and we became citizens of the world.”

She is now a doctoral student in the Department of Government at American University. It’s safe to say that her experience at WVU and Arnold Hall shaped her into who she is today.

“The first time I entered Arnold Hall I was a little girl having a first taste of the world. The last time I left the building I was a strong woman, ready to conquer the world.”

Like mother, like daughter

Webster and Basile

Roommates Cindy Hunter Webster and Susan Matthews Basile in 1965.

Arnold Hall daughters

Roommates Beth Paglia Greene and Amanda Webster in 2001.


Cindy Hunter Webster, MA ’91, Special Education, and her daughter Amanda Webster, MA ’11, Educational Psychology, both lived in Arnold Hall during different eras. 

Cindy, originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., began her Mountaineer experience in 1965 when she embarked on her first degree from WVU, a bachelor’s in physical education and biological sciences. Her daughter Amanda, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., entered in 2001 in the communication studies program. Despite the different eras, both were paired up with roommates who became their lifelong friends. 

Two Generations Arnold Hall

Two generations of Arnold Hall roommates reunited in April 2017: Susan Basile, Cindy Webster, Amanda Webster and Beth Greene.


“Mothers and daughters share so many memories throughout life,” Cindy wrote. “We both chose to have roommates that we didn’t know and the WVU matchup was perfect.

“Arnold Hall created these friendships that have lasted a lifetime!”

The foundation of love

Though Jeffrey L. Shafer, BS ’75, Landscape Architecture, never lived in Arnold Hall, the building served as the setting where love and partnership would blossom. 

Shafer, now living in Peachtree City, Ga., was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which had its fraternity house located near Arnold Hall. 

“Along with several other fraternity brothers, I was a waiter in the Arnold Hall cafeteria for two years,” he said. “What a great place to meet new friends and find dates!”

But it was one particular woman, Janis Meek, BS ’76, Secondary Education, who made Arnold Hall most sacred to him.

“We spent many evenings on the couches in the Arnold commons area talking, doing homework and planning our future together,” Shafer said. “I graduated in 1975, went into the Army and during her senior year in 1976 we were married. 

“We shared 28 years together serving the country, raising our family and traveling around the world. Sadly, Janis passed away in 2004 after a short fight with cancer. Arnold Hall will always hold fond memories of my time at WVU.”

Arnold Hall aerial

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & Regional History Center, WVU Libraries

The following memories were also shared with us from alumni, in their own words in this online-only special:

Lionel Farr, BS ’74, MS ’76, Mechanical Engineering

My grandmother, Emma McCutcheon, was the housemother for Arnold Hall from the mid-50s to mid-60s. The housemother was the surrogate mother for all the girls in the dorm. She had raised four daughters with her husband, Wilford McCutcheon, in Ronceverte, W.Va. Wilford was a high school principal but passed away in 1955. It was then that my grandmother moved to Morgantown to become a housemother.

On occasion, my brothers and I would spend the afternoon with grandma at Arnold Hall and go to Sunday dinner with her in the dining hall. My grandmother had a three-room apartment on the main level just down the hall to the right. At the end of the hall was a huge living room with all sorts of sofas and chairs arranged in sitting areas – and a really nice grand piano. It was a great place for a 5- or 6-year-old to play, hide or listen to someone playing the piano.

At dinner, we sat at grandma’s table while waiters served platters of meat and bowls of vegetables. We always had to be on our best behavior or we would get a slight glare from grandma, but never a harsh word. 

My grandmother retired in 1965 and returned home to Ronceverte. She passed away in 1990 at the age of 90, but I know she had fond memories of Arnold Hall ... as well as we do. 

Female students at Arnold

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & regional History Center, WVU Libraries


Kathy Carr Kuntz, BS  ’76 Industrial Engineering 

Back before she was Lady Gaga’s mom, Cindy Bissett (BS ’76, Business) was my roommate at Arnold Hall. I’m not sure how we ended up together. We were Chi Omega pledge sisters and liked each other, but I can’t recall how I got so lucky. 

Cindy was sophisticated; I was not. Everything she did seemed exotic to me. She was beautiful, a cheerleader and danced like a gazelle. But most of all we laughed all the time. 

When I learned Gaga was her daughter, I freaked out! My classy roommate was now the mother of the greatest singer on the planet! I saw her recently and she hasn’t changed a bit. 

The planets aligned for me. Now I am known as Lady Gaga’s mother’s college roommate. And all I did was show up at Arnold.  

Greg Ruff, BA ’73, Communications; BS ’79, Business

Wow. Long ago, about 1968 I think, I worked at Arnold Hall as a waiter, played Santa Claus one Christmas and actually rode into the dining hall sitting on the back of a sports car!

While it was thoroughly measured to see if the car would go through, I remember as we approached it driving I was thinking we weren’t going to fit! Obviously we did.  

Female student in Arnold Hall

A student studies in her room at Arnold Hall in September 2016. Photo by Jennifer Shephard.


Jenna Cramer, BS ’15, current graduate student

I will not forget the programs spent at Arnold Hall doing graffiti art, hosting bonfires, traveling to Coopers Rock and trying exotic foods from other countries.

Yes, I often made it over to the old Dairy Mart for a study snack, or to the Lair for Up All Night. And when I came back it always felt like home, because it was! 

For three years, I truly feel like my soul nestled in the comfort of that building. Not to say that Arnold didn't have its challenges, but building character and overcoming adversity have always been the mottos of Arnold Hall. 

Every week, I had a new story to tell about what happened in Arnold Hall. Some, I cannot share. Others, I will tell over and over again. It has certainly been through a lot, and I will be very sad to see it go while taking a bit of me with it.

Barbara Woleslagle Bollin, BSN ’73

Arnold Hall was not air conditioned and it was so very hot in the summer; we ran fans in the windows all of the time.  

I was in love with a young man who had graduated from WVU the previous December (1969) and he was in officer training school at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. That summer and the entire next year we wrote to each other every day. Every day! So my memories of Arnold Hall include frequent and happy trips to the mailbox.

I have two other memories of looking out the window onto the main street on which Arnold was located. One, in the winter, I watched many a car slide down that icy hill. Two, it seemed that every weekend a guy I had dated in my freshman year came to pick up a coed from Arnold Hall and they were gone for the weekend! Ha! I was an unintentional spy.

Arnold exterior

Photo by Jennifer Shephard


Stacey Zavala, BS ’94, English Education; BA ’96, Special Education

I was both a freshman at Arnold Hall and a resident assistant. In looking at the aerial photo of the building, I recall playing cards on the roof with Karl Dotson and other students from the Honors floor, as well as crossing over to the restricted part of the roof to practice reciting Geoffrey Chaucer’s “General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English” at the top of my lungs for Professor Eaton's English class.  

I remember watching storms roll in on that roof, and even the night the wind slammed and locked the door with us stuck on top as the storm hit Morgantown. Luckily, our RD finally heard us banging and rescued us!  

I made great friends in Arnold Hall, friends that I still have today. I recall the Delta Gamma song that was sung over and over during pledge week that there was no way to avoid. I remember with fondness Mrs. G at the front desk and my RA staff!  

I remember learning a Bach piano piece in the common room with Jennie Ferret teaching me to play, cooking sushi with my residents in the kitchen, having fun with my residents by dancing to de-stress during finals week, and making popcorn with M&Ms and watching “Twin Peaks” with my freshmen friends. Arnold Hall was home, friends and family!

Debbie Wilson

Debbie Wilson

Debbie Wilson, BS ’86, Physical Therapy; MS ’97, Anatomy

Memories of silly pranks, study cram sessions, watching “General Hospital (days of Luke and Laura!),” Sunday afternoon pizza parties and sledding with cafeteria trays will always bring a smile to my face.  

Back in the “old days” each floor had a room for folks to use to iron clothing ... named appropriately the “pressing room.” Myself and my cohorts took it upon ourselves to make that room our own personal museum to hunky men, coining this room the anti-“depressing” room.  

Carole Fields Robison, MA ’05, Counseling

I am now 58 years old and the first time I was at Arnold Hall was 1968. My mother, Mildred Hall Fields, worked as a baker with my aunt, Georgia Ingram, who was the head baker in the Arnold Hall kitchen.

My mother loved working there, making baked goods for all the college girls. I had the privilege of waiting in the employee lounge for my mom to get off work. Every once in a while I would get a tour of the kitchen and get a glimpse of the college girls going through the line to get their meal.
  
I dreamed of being one of those WVU college girls!  Well, at age 45, I received my Master’s of Arts in Counseling from WVU (in 2005)!

My mother passed away in 1983. She left a legacy of recipes she had written on napkins of the baked goods they prepared at Arnold Hall. For all those college girls many years ago, I still have those recipes today!

Arnold construction

Photo courtesy of the West Virginia & regional History Center, WVU Libraries


Richard Hopkins, BSJ ’61; MSJ ’63

Just to put the building of Arnold Hall Apartments in perspective, I recall (I was in grad school then) that an Edsel car dealership was demolished, among other buildings along that corner, to make way for what came to be known as Arnold Hall Apartments. 

My wife, Lynda, and I lived up the hill behind the Thorofare grocery store in the curve behind Arnold Hall, and thus we drove by Arnold and the apartments daily while I was in grad school. Lynda had finished her biology degree and was working in the Department of Biology at the Med Center during that time. Lynda also resided in Arnold Hall as an undergrad and I recall that all the gals on the whole floor had to share a single telephone and that was their only access to the outside world after curfew. My, how times have changed! 

Bonnie Angotti Maphis 

My sophomore year, 1959-60, I was among the first residents of Arnold Hall. 

I will never forget the red community bathroom walls with the bright fluorescent lights! I couldn't hold my eyes all the way open first thing in the morning!

We only had food deliveries of cold subs and TVs in one common room. We all shared a phone.

The dinner meals were still served on white linens and we had waiter service. I had my first boysenberry pie there and deep-fried puffy French toast. The rules were still strict. Break the rules and you were sent to see Dean Boyd. No men were allowed past the lobby, except on moving day – not even our dads. You had to yell “Man on the floor!”

We had good times without all the freedoms now allowed. I'm still friends, at 76, with my WVU friends and roommates.


Arnold diner

A male student eats at the diner in Arnold Hall in September 2016. Photo by Jennifer Shephard.


Sheryl Hyden Sergent, BSN ’84

The girls decided to play a prank on me one night. They thought that I was out for the evening. They didn’t know that I had returned about 30 minutes before their prank and I was in my room with the lights off. They tried to blow baby powder under my door with a blow dryer and they placed pennies in between the door frame and the door to try to jam the door (called “pennying in”). I quietly laid a bath towel at the bottom of my door to catch the baby powder.

The next day, I laughed and told them the names of everybody that participated in the prank.

I remember the long walk from the Beechurst PRT station at the end of the day and the “climb” to Arnold Hall. I was a nursing major so I had to ride the PRT to the medical center every day. Some days, that climb seemed like an Olympian feat. But, the word on campus was that WVU girls had the best looking legs in the Big East. All that exercise!  

Occasionally, I would ride the PRT all the way to the downtown station so that I could shop at Rite Aid and G. C. Murphy’s on my way back to my room. The walk from downtown seemed more sloped and gradual instead of climbing all those stairs from Beechhurst. Plus, a girl has to shop every once in a while!

I remember the girls on that floor adopted a stray cat from outside and took turns hiding her in their rooms. Of course the cat was pregnant and had her kittens in the little lounge room on the floor. The girls had to confess and then find homes for the cat and her kittens.

Elizabeth M. Richter, BS ’11, Marketing

One specific memory took place on April Fool’s Day. We played a prank on one of our friends by disassembling his bed and desk and recreating his room in the hallway. Our RA was always amazed to see the creativity, but was tormented by our disobedience. 

We shared many meals in the cafeteria, sharing stories for hours. I also learned to play some guitar in this dorm along with many other skills; one being to utilize every centimeter of space in a closet and room.

Parfait glass

A commemorative parfait glass served at a Christmas dinner at ArNold Hall in 1977.


Beth (Philabaum) Teaford, BS ’82, Family Resources 

My fond memories of Arnold Hall come from 1977, my freshman year. I was on the bottom floor on the side that was next to the annex where all the boys were housed. On warm days when the windows were open, one of the boys would put his stereo speakers in the window and blast “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Jungle Love” for, I guess, the girls’ enjoyment in the main hall. To this day, when I hear those songs, it makes me smile and remember my freshman year in Arnold Hall.

Another memory I have is of the wonderful Christmas dinner that was served in Arnold Hall in 1977. It included candlelight, my first experience with a Cornish hen, and a lovely fruit salad in a commemorative parfait glass which I still have. The picture (above) is of the glass which is sitting on the quilt wall hanging that was made for Mountaineer Week logo in 1981. 

We’re listening. You are our greatest voice. So use it. Use this form to send us story ideas, letters to the editor, questions for a future guest on Ask an Expert, memories for the Flashback section or tales for the Alumni Diary.

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