Radford University: Then and now

Radford University students undertook the task of restoring and digitizing photos of Radford’s past.

Not only did the students restore and digitize some of the archived photos of the university, but they also recreated each photo to compare the university to its past.

One of the students who worked on the project has ties going back to the origins of Radford University. Colton McConnell, a senior majoring in journalism, is the great-great grandson of John Preston McConnell, after which the library was named.    


Radford University students have their archived photograph recreations on display in McConnell Library.

“Radford has always been a really big part of my life,” McConnell said. “It was interesting seeing the aspects that aren’t here anymore, such as the roads. I chose the Radford fountain because it is and has been such a significant part of campus. Everyone knows that picture. I thought it was something iconic to compare.”

McConnell took the comparable modern photo of the iconic fountain.

Senior Danielle Green, a photography major, chose to photograph Whitt Hall, a building that has been on Radford’s campus since 1928. 

The iconic Radford University fountain in 1960.

“Whitt Hall is under renovation, so I thought that it would be interesting to see the building during the process of the renovations compared to how it used to look,” Green said. “It would even be nice to compare the photos after the renovations are complete. Right now, it still looks pretty similar.”

Green learned a lot about Radford’s history and its origins while browsing the archived photos.

“This is an old campus,” Green said. “Even the 1980s is beyond my reach to think about. It was really interesting seeing photos from the 80s and especially the 30s. It’s amazing that the university has been around that long. You have the same form of documentation now as you did then.”

Sydney Hilmon, a senior studio art major, chose Peters Hall.

“The hedge is what made me choose that photo,” Hilmon said. “It hasn’t changed that much. Now, there is that huge hedge. They extended the walkway a little bit and made the rest of it all grass. It used to just be a part of Moffett Quad.”

The gallery is on display in the McConnell Library Event Space until Dec. 6.

Nov 14, 2016
Max Esterhuizen
(540) 831-7749