walking tour for participants of the Folger workshop from May 26-28
Built in 1923 as the new home of the West Virginia University law school, Colson Hall is one of the most eye-catching structures on WVU’s downtown campus. The building gained its moniker in 1975 in honor of former law school dean and two-time interim university president Clyde L. Colson, one year after the law school moved to its current location and the West Virginia & Regional History Center took its place. During its time as WVU’s law school Colson Hall witnessed the graduation of several prominent individuals, among them the law school’s first African American graduate (Charles E. Price of Fairmont, West Virginia), three West Virginia governors, and a US ambassador. Through its association with these individuals, Colson Hall serves as a unique window into the legal, political, and diplomatic histories of West Virginia and the nation at large. After the West Virginia & Regional History Center moved to its current location in Wise Library in the early twenty-first century Colson Hall became the home of WVU’s English Department, which continues to occupy the building and is open during regular university hours.
The WVU Art Movement is a student organization at West Virginia University dedicated to supporting, promoting, and creating public art for the WVU and Morgantown community. They created the PRT Mural under the WVU Beechurst PRT station in the fall of 2015 using WVU blue and golds and river iconography to reflect the location.
Woodburn Hall is the centerpiece of West Virginia University (WVU). Constructed between 1874 and 1911, Woodburn Hall bears the name of the Woodburn Female Seminary, the first school for girls in Morgantown. Woodburn Hall is the second-oldest extant building on WVU's campus and has been a meeting place for the University community for over a century. The building was designed by renowned Morgantown architect, Elmer Forrest Jacobs, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Built in 1870 in the Second Empire style and named for the university’s first president, Alexander Martin, Martin Hall on Woodburn Circle is currently the oldest structure still standing on West Virginia University’s downtown campus. Early on in the university’s history the building was the site of a number of notable student pranks, most prominently the 1883 firing of a decorative cannon in Woodburn Circle by a group known as the “U. of W.V. Guerillas” (led by Al Jennings, later one of the most wanted criminals in Oklahoma history). The following year, another group of pranksters that included future Minnesota District Court Judge James C. Michael coaxed a steer into Martin Hall, where they left it to be discovered by faculty on the second floor the following morning. On a more serious note, the building was also the site of early radio tests in the 1910s and 1920s by Drs. Robert Colwell, Charles Jolliffe, and James D’Agostino, tests that ultimately led to the creation of FM and color television. The latter has made Martin Hall a particularly appropriate home for its current occupant, the Reed College of Media, which keeps the building open during regular university hours.
On September 12, 1992, the Native American Studies Department of West Virginia University held a ceremony for Chief Leon Shenandoah to plant a Peace Tree on campus to commemorate the five hundred year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas and to reflect on the University’s commitment to studying Native American history. Peace Tree honoring ceremonies are held annually.
On December 7, 1941, The U.S.S. West Virginia was struck by two bombs and seven torpedoes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack sunk but did not destroy the battleship, and she went back into service after repairs until her decommissioning in 1947. On March 17, 1961 the mast of the U.S.S. West Virginia BB-48 arrived at West Virginia University to commemorate the perseverance of the battleship. This mast is one of many artifacts from the ship donated to the state of West Virginia. The mast was later installed in Oglebay Plaza in front of Oglebay Hall on May 11, 1963, as a Pearl Harbor memorial. In 2007, a commemorative bronze plaque was dedicated with the names of the 106 sailors who died during the attack on the USS West Virginia.
1046 College Ave, 2 Cayton Street, and 3 Cayton Street were all listed as tourist homes in the Negro Traveler Green Book during the 1950s and 1960s. The Green Book was a travel resource for African Americans to guide them to safe accommodations during the Jim Crow and segregation era, and these three homes would have provided lodgings to travelers in the Morgantown area.
The Sunnyside Superette was an independent grocery and convenience store located in Morgantown’s Sunnyside neighborhood. The business began in the 1930s as the Sunnyside Fruit Market, which moved down the street to 2047 University Avenue in the 1940s and opened as the Superette Market Grocery. The business name changed to the Sunnyside Superette in the 1950s. The Sunnyside Superette was popular among local families who lived in Sunnyside in the mid-twentieth century and remained popular among Sunnyside’s student residents in the late twentieth century. In 2015, the Sunnyside Superette closed, its owner and patrons citing the new Sheetz located at University Place.
Mutt’s Sunnyside Place, a pub in Morgantown, West Virginia, was once located on University Avenue in the Sunnyside neighborhood between 1979 to 2013. In this time, Sunnyside was a neighborhood with houses rented primarily to undergraduate students at West Virginia University. Mutt’s was among the pubs and eateries that catered to WVU students and the thriving party scene in Sunnyside. The business was originally opened in 1935 and moved to University Avenue after a fire destroyed their original location. The house it occupied was built at the turn of the twentieth century and was owned and rented by a number of working class families, individuals, and students over the decades. In 2012, Mutt’s and 38 surrounding properties were acquired by West Virginia University and a local developer to build the University Place apartment complex.
In 1897, the Seneca Glass Company began production of glass on the shores of the Monongahela River and continued to do so for almost a century. While more than a dozen glass factories existed in Morgantown by the early twentieth century, the Seneca Glass Factory is one of the few industrial structures that remains from this economic heyday. It was a key component of Morgantown’s economy and led to the development of the Sunnyside neighborhood. After the factory’s closure in 1983, the interior of the building was redesigned and turned into the Seneca Center, containing various local artisan businesses, antiques dealers and restaurants. The building remains extremely architecturally faithful to its original designs and historical objects are displayed throughout.
The West Virginia Mountaineer in the official mascot of West Virginia University (WVU). Selected annually since the 1930s from the university’s student body, the mascot is a popular tradition of the school. There is a bronze Mountaineer statue in front of the Mountainlair, WVU’s student center, which was dedicated in 1971.
Serving as a backdrop of White Hall's G-21 lecture room, you will find a beautiful mural that was produced from 1940-42, for the then Mineral Industries Building. Robert Lewis Lepper, prominent artist, designer, and sculptor from Pennslyvania, created “Study for the Mural at Mineral Industries Building, West Virginia University,” which abstractly highlights American industry. The mural incorporates Lepper's unique artistic approach while complementing the modern style of works created during the New Deal.
As an introduction to the brand, the Coca-Cola Company began painting murals across buildings in America in 1914. Today these murals represent not only the unique advertising history of Coca-Cola, but also the history of the communities these murals were placed in. Local Coca-Cola employee, John D. “Jack” Courtney, painted this mural along Morgantown’s High Street in 1953. The mural was covered up and forgotten for many years by a building placed next to what once was Comuntzis' Downtown restaurant. This ghost sign saw light again just a few years ago when the adjoining building was torn down, and successful efforts were made to restore the mural in 2015.
Mural created in the 1970s, sponsored by Mainstreet Morgantown.
Dedicated in 2016, this statue commemorates the life and career of Don Knotts, an actor and comedian from Morgantown. Knotts is best known for his portrayal of Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968. Knotts also starred in films like "The Ghost" and "Mr. Chicken and The Shakiest Gun in the West." His career and legacy influenced many other comedians and he was a beloved figure among his fellow West Virginians for both his success in Hollywood and the way that success did not change the kind and open person who was raised here.
The southeastern corner of the intersection between High Street and Wall Street (formerly known as Maiden Alley) in downtown Morgantown, West Virginia has been a focus of community activity since the town’s inception in the eighteenth century. Originally listed as Lot 71 when Zackquill Morgan laid out his plan for the town between 1783 and 1785, the area has since served in a number of capacities, most notably as the site of the Jarrett Tavern, then the Wallace House, and later the Wiles Block Building. Over the course of this history, Lot 71 has played host to a number of prominent individuals and events, most notably welcoming Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone during their brief visit to Morgantown in 1921 and serving as the backdrop of a 1926 murder that received nationwide attention. Through its association with these events and others Lot 71 represents a connection between the town and much broader processes, among them the histories of travel, technology, crime, and suburbanization. The site is currently occupied by a number of local businesses, all of which are open to the public.
The Colonel Zackquill Morgan statue erected on Spruce Street in Morgantown in 2016 was cast by Vandalia Bronze after five years of planning, design, and construction. Founded by Jamie Lester, Vandalia Bronze created the piece in part from Greek bronze dated to 7,000 B.C. The statue commemorates the role of Colonel Morgan in the foundation of his namesake town after receiving a charter from the Virginia Assembly in 1785. Morgan was influential in regional affairs long before that, however, and in fact played a pivotal role in the events of the American War for Independence in the area. The statue is accessible at all hours, every day of the year.
The Appalachian Gallery is an art gallery, gift shop, and framing studio that promotes the work of West Virginia artists. Opened in 1987, the Appalachian Gallery features a variety of arts, crafts, and gift items. The gallery is located in the historic W.E. Price house, designed by famed Morgantown architect Elmer Jacobs.
The "All Hands on Deckers" mural features footprints and paw prints from various animals native to the Deckers Creek watershed, as well as members of the community. It is sponsored the Friends of Deckers Creek, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving this tributary of the Monongahela Rive. The mural is located underneath the Walnut Street Bridge abutment along the Deckers Creek Rail Trail at Stanley's Spot Dog Park.
Just outside of the Monongalia County Courthouse lies the Monongalia Courthouse Plaza which features memorial plaques, a glass outline of the Monongahela River, and other features design to showcase the local history and beauty of the area in an outdoor and accessible location. It also fountains a restored historic fountain, Planned by Mills Group, a West Virginia based architecture, planning, and preservation firm, after the Monongalia County Commission sought to improve the existing courthouse square, this site was rededicated in May of 2018 after approval in 2016. The site is open to the public and is ADA accessible.
The Monongalia County Courthouse was built in 1890 and is the fourth courthouse to occupy this space. The first three were built in 1784, 1804, and 1848. The construction of the extant building was a somewhat clandestine affair, as opposition from local residents necessitated the destruction of the prior courthouse during the night. The courthouse is built in a Victorian Romanesque style drafted by Pittsburgh architect James P. Bailey. The building itself has changed relatively little since being constructed in 1890, though the courtyard in front of it was heavily renovated in 2016. The courthouse is a hub of Monongalia County and Morgantown, hosting civic, political, and social events.
The Hotel Morgan made its debut on October 16, 1925, as one of the most opulent hotels of its time. Its offerings included a grand ballroom and panoramic view of the downtown Morgantown area. Upon completion, the Monongalia Historical Society insisted that the new luxurious hotel be named after Zackquill Morgan, the founder of Morgantown. The Hotel Morgan has hosted many notable names, including Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934, former President Harry Truman in 1954, and was a campaign stop for John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election. Hotel Morgan was renovated in 1999 by replacing the outdated 1970s decor and restoring the hotel to its former 1920s glory. A more recent renovation in 2020 has attempted to modernize the hotel. Despite numerous changes, the exterior of the Hotel Morgan has changed extremely little over the years and is an iconic fixture of the Morgantown skyline.
The Monongalia Arts Center, or MAC, is located in Morgantown, West Virginia near the campus of West Virginia University. The MAC opened to the public in 1978 as a non-profit arts and culture center to showcase local artists and performers. The MAC's mission is to provide the materials needed to build interest in the arts through ongoing educational programs. Located in a former post office building, the MAC has two galleries, a theatre for the performing arts, and is undergoing production on other projects including an internet radio station and the establishment of the Tanner Theatre as a regular venue for touring bands.
Located in downtown Morgantown, West Virginia, 76 High Street is a Queen Anne Revival that was built in 1895 as a home for the West Virginia University dean of the School of Engineering. With the exception of an addition on the back of the building, it has retained its original facade. The building is currently home to Bel-Cross Properties, a property management and real estate firm. Beginning in the fall of 2001 and lasting through June 30, 2016 the building was the location of Cafe Bacchus, a local restaurant that was known to host a Titanic dinner in honor of former resident, Lucian Philip Smith, who died during the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Before that, it was home to the Demanielis—descendants of Greek immigrants to Morgantown—who had decided to transform their home into The Flame Steakhouse, a restaurant that operated for over 30 years.
The Morgantown History Museum is a city-sponsored museum of history that collects, preserves, and interprets the history of the city and region. The museum offers a permanent exhibit which includes historic artifacts and displays about prominent residents and institutions within Morgantown and the surrounding area. The museum also sponsors a variety of traveling and temporary exhibits dedicated to a more in-depth look at certain topics related to local history. Although they are not affiliated, the Morgantown History Museum is located directly behind the Morgantown Arts Center.
The historical marker at this site commemorates Morgantown’s role in the Jones-Imboden Raid of 1863. Meant as both an attempt to prevent the formation of the new state of West Virginia and damage the infrastructure of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in the region, the raid arrived to the seat of Monongalia County on April 27, 1863 in the guise of a troop of Confederate cavalrymen led by Colonel Asher Harmon. Harmon left early the next morning to reunite with his commander General William E. Jones in the town of Independence twenty miles down the road in what is now Preston County, West Virginia. Their combined forces then returned to Morgantown with the intention of destroying the bridge over the Monongahela River. The Confederate capture of Morgantown prompted a more concerted Federal effort to counter the raid’s progress through the counties of western Virginia, an effort that culminated in the Battle of the Bridge on April 29 (the largest Civil War battle in what is now northern West Virginia). The marker commemorating Morgantown’s part in the raid is in Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, which is open from 7 AM to 9 PM every day of the week.
This mosaic created by local children and artist Debora Palmer depicts a variety of downtown scenes. It is located along the Caperton Trail restroom building, in between the amphitheater in Hazel Ruby McQuain Park and the roundabout before the footbridge across Deckers Creek.