Editor's note: This is the 258th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — For years, Jake Brumfield operated a Meat Market and Grocery at 20th Street and 4th Avenue. The meat he sold was as fresh as you could get, as the animals were brought in on the hoof and butchered in the back of the store. When the Brumfield market closed, Marshall University acquired the building and used it as a makeshift home for its engineering program.
In a letter to the West Virginia Board of Regents, engineering students later complained about the building's sad condition. They noted that the water used for experiments was collected in the slaughterhouse's blood drains and the electrical circuits laboratory had to use the store's old refrigeration room. Also, a computer located on the building's second floor had to be covered with plastic when it rained, so the water dripping from a hole in the ceiling would not disable it.
The students' complaints went ignored. And in 1971 the Board of Regent decreed that Marshall could offer only the first two years of engineering. This meant MU students had to transfer to West Virginia University or West Virginia Tech to obtain four-year degrees.
The state's edict was enormously unpopular on the Marshall campus and in the Huntington community. But it took more than 30 years - and a change in the way the state's colleges and universities were governed - before it could be reversed. When new legislation gave the individual governing bodies at MU and WVU more control over their schools, Marshall opted to offer a four-year degree in civil engineering and vowed that other engineering degrees would soon follow. That indeed proved to be the case.
And in 2015, Marshall finally got a suitable home for it engineering program. With its high-tech classrooms and labs, the $56 million Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex is the most expensive building project in the university's history - and a far cry from the day when the school's engineering program was relegated to a ramshackle slaughterhouse.