McMurran Hall was the first building occupied by Shepherd University when the institution was first formed in September 1871. It housed both administrative offices and classrooms. During the twentieth century, McMurran Hall served as an academic building holding classes in biology, journalism, music, and public speaking. Today it serves as the offices for Advancement, University Foundation, and Alumni Relations.
McMurran Hall was constructed in the Greek Revival style in 1859-60 by Rezin Shepherd, the great-grandson of Thomas Shepherd (the founder of Shepherdstown), and consisted only of the central portion of the building. The clock, also referred to as the "Town Clock," in McMurran Hall's tower was a gift from Rezin Shepherd to the Trinity Episcopal Church in 1842. The "Town Clock" was removed from the Trinity Episcopal Church, located on the corner of High and Church Streets, in the fall of 1860 and placed in McMurran Hall's tower. The construction of the stone wall along the south and west boundaries of McMurran Hall started in 1859 and was not completed until after the Civil War. The stones that make up the wall were hand-quarried, hand-cut limestone from Rezin Shepherd's farm. Originally McMurran Hall was intended to be used as Shepherdstown's town hall but events were taking place that would change that.
During the Battle at Antietam, all the public buildings and many private homes of Shepherdstown were used as hospitals for the wounded. McMurran Hall was no exception. Mary Bendiger Mitchell talks about McMurran Hall in her essay "A Woman's Recollections of the Battle of Antietam" found in Battles and Leaders Vol. II. She says "The unfinished Town Hall had stood in naked ugliness for many a long day. Somebody threw a few rough boards across the beams, placed piles of straw over them, laid down single planks to walk upon, and lo, it was a hospital at once."
In February 1865 the Jefferson County seat was moved from Charles Town to Shepherdstown making McMurran Hall the new county courthouse. During 1865-66 the wings on either side of the central portion of McMurran Hall were constructed to create court offices. In the summer of 1871 the county seat moved back to Charles Town, leaving McMurran Hall vacant. Several members of Shepherdstown's community asked Mr. Shepherd Brooks, the grandson of Rezin Shepherd, if they could use the vacant building to start a classical and scientific school which became Shepherd University. Shepherd University leased McMurran Hall until April 28, 1891 when Shepherd Brooks deeded McMurran Hall to the Shepherd College Board of Trustees.
McMurran Hall also served as the Shepherdstown High School from 1922 until 1928.
McMurran Hall has been known as the "Town Hall," "Shepherd College" or the "Old College Building." In 1927, the College administration officially named the building "McMurran Hall" in honor of Joseph McMurran, the first principal/president of Shepherd University (1871 to 1882) who is considered to be the founder of Shepherd University.