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Storer College, Cook Hall, 252 McDowell Street, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV

Storer College, Cook Hall, 252 McDowell Street, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV

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Significance: Constructed in 1939-40 and named after its principal benefactor, Permelia Eastman Cook Hall holds significance as the last new building constructed on the campus of Storer College, a historically black college in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, which ceased operations in 1955. This closure was, in part, an ironic and unfortunate outcome of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. Storer College had been founded by northern Baptists in 1867 primarily for the education of newly emancipated slaves. Although from the outset Storer situated its curriculum on liberal arts coursework, in the 1880s it was expanded to include industrial education for both men and women. Such training for female students at Storer included cooking, sewing, and general domestic management, comprising preparation for the few areas of paid work at the time considered appropriate for women in general, and black women in particular. With construction funds and project oversight coming largely from women in Baptist missionary groups whose membership hailed mostly from Northern and Midwestern states, the building of Cook Hall is part of a tangled narrative providing insight on such compelling issues as race, gender, education, and religion in 19th- and 20th-century America. Cook Hall's essential visual qualities are derived from the local gray-green stone used for its walls and the Colonial Revival architectural elements that enliven its front façade—both the material and stylistic aspects of the design had precedent in other Storer College buildings. The attractive and well-constructed building was one of those reused by the National Park Service after a congressional appropriation in 1962 allowed the agency to purchase the defunct school's historic campus for an expansion of the Harpers Ferry National Monument (renamed Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in 1963). Plans surrounding this acquisition also included the establishment of an eastern training center for National Park Service employees. Towards this end, Cook Hall and Anthony Memorial Hall—the centerpiece of the Storer campus—were renovated in 1962-63, as, respectively, a dormitory and a classroom and administration building for what was dedicated in 1964 as the "Stephen T. Mather Training Center." Although Cook Hall no longer functions as a dormitory, it is still used as offices for the National Park Service and is currently undergoing an exterior restoration
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1213
Survey number: HABS WV-277-E
Building/structure dates: 1940 Initial Construction



Historic American Buildings Survey, creator
Cook, Permelia Eastman
Price, Virginia B, transmitter
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, sponsor
Schara, Mark, field team project manager
Schara, Mark, field team
Davidson, Paul, field team
Kidd, Anne E, field team
McNatt, Jason, field team


Harpers Ferry39.32347, -77.74052
Google Map of 39.32347, -77.74051899999999


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