For seven decades, Morgantown Beauty College has trained students how to cut, color, and groom people. Now it has gotten its very own artistic makeover.
➼ Like an aesthetician performing a facial peel, when Morgantown Beauty College owner Michael Sodomick recently sloughed off layers of wallpaper in the college’s voluminous clinical space, he discovered something special—beautiful historic wallpaper. He brought in renowned art historian Dr. Jonathan Katz, who identified the paper as having been created during the Aesthetic Movement in the mid-19th century in Britain. Aestheticism departed from the extravagant Victorian detail and fussiness, he explained, and focused instead on color, geometric patterns, and simpler lines. Rather than ripping it off, Sodomick saved as much as he could and then hired artist Geri Sowers of Rice’s Landing, Pennsylvania, to create large-scale murals inspired by the rich colors and striking floral motifs of the newly revealed paper. The results are stunning—and just another reason to patronize this much-loved local institution.
Founded in 1946 by Lillian Anderson, J. Bruno, H. Cain, Helen Nixon, T.D. Nixon, and S. Rosenthal, the Morgantown Beauty College was first located on Stewart Street. Homer and Velmagene Martin purchased the college in 1952, and they later relocated it to its current location in the Shisler house at 276 Walnut Street. The 1902 Shisler home has a vibrant past. It is rumored to have housed a speakeasy during Prohibition, and it served as the home of the Elks for a time. Sodomick purchased the building and school from the estate of Homer Martin in 1996.
The college offers five tracks—Cosmetology, Massage Therapy, Esthetics, Nail Technology, and Hair Stylist—and graduated nearly 70 students last academic period. It’s adding a Waxing Specialist program soon and has seen rising interest in Esthetics. Beauty College Manager Kathy Calain says, “The Esthetics program has taken off in the last six months, reflecting the real-world demand for the industry. We expect it to continue to grow.”
The college comprises five floors with special classrooms for each of the programs. Manicures and pedicures and hair cutting, styling, and coloring are done on the clinical floor—a ginormous, light-filled, open space that was once a ballroom. Massages and esthetic services take place in a more intimate space using modern technology and equipment.
In recent years, the college has embraced a paperless, all-digital system, including giving iPads to students as part of their student kits. “Students come from all over the region and the state because we are unique,” says Calain. “We use state-of-the-art technology, and we’ve added small labs where the instructors really work with students on cuts, color, and color correction. We’ve also added specialized training in ethnic braiding, weaving, and extensions. And because of our convenient location, we have live client models, so our students get lots of real-life experience.”
That real-life experience is a win–win for Morgantown. Community members and students from WVU flock to the beauty college for its long list of low-priced services. Its online booking system makes scheduling an appointment easy. So take advantage of the plethora of services offered at the Morgantown Beauty College—and while you’re at it, check out the stunning large-scale paintings. Even though it is easy to imagine little old ladies lined up under the electric dryers, this definitely isn’t your grandmother’s salon.
276 Walnut Street, 304.292.8475, morgantownbeautycollege.edu