Walking Tour of Sunnyside, Morgantown, WV

Bound by Campus Drive to the south, 8th Street to the north, University Avenue to the east, and Beechurst Avenue to the west, Sunnyside lies to the north of WVU’s downtown campus. Although known in recent memory as a student rental neighborhood and popular party location, prior to the mid-twentieth century, Sunnyside was home to immigrants and multi-generational families, skilled and unskilled workers, professors and students. As a primarily working class neighborhood, Sunnyside provided affordable housing, proximity to one’s workplace, campus, and downtown Morgantown, and many social outlets for both permanent and transient populations. Since 2013, WVU's Local History Research Methods course has focused on researching, documenting, and interpreting Sunnyside history. This tour incorporates original student research on Sunnyside's cultural, social, and industrial history.

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Mountaineer Field (1924-1987)
For most of the twentieth century, West Virginia University fans cheered on their favorite football team at Mountaineer Field, once located between Woodburn Hall and the present-day Life Sciences Building. Known colloquially as "Old Mountaineer Field," the stadium seated 34,000 spectators and was home to famous football games such as the Backyard Brawl, a longstanding rivalry between the West Virginia University Mountaineers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers. Mountaineer Field closed in 1979 and was demolished in 1984 after the new Mountaineer Field, now Milan Puskar Stadium, opened in 1980 on the Evansdale campus.
Sunnyside is a 130-acre neighborhood adjacent to West Virginia University's downtown campus. It includes older homes, new businesses, new construction, and the iconic Seneca Center.
Sunnyside Superette (1930s-2015)
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 (1979-2013 location)
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.
McLane Manor (Seneca Elementary School)
The former Seneca Elementary School, now McLane Manor Apartments, was constructed in 1904 in response to Morgantown’s rapid growth at the turn of the twentieth century. It served as a school for the children of Fourth Ward, which includes Morgantown’s Sunnyside neighborhood, until 1967. The building was later used as a library and resource center for the county school system. In the 1980s, when Sunnyside was primarily a neighborhood for students at West Virginia University, the building was purchased and converted into the McLane Manor Apartments.
Morgantown Turn Verein (1898-1980s)
The Turn Verein in Morgantown’s Sunnyside neighborhood was constructed in 1898 as an athletic club and community center for German immigrants. These organizations were established in Germany and across the United States, especially after their members were exiled from Germany following the Revolution of 1848. A number of Germans came to Morgantown through the thriving glass industry at the turn of the twentieth century. The Turn Verein organization likely dismantled around 1920, when other organizations used the building as a gymnasium until 1969. The building was demolished in the 1980s to build apartments for student renters at West Virginia University.
St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church (1898-1924)
From 1898 to 1924, St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church stood as the physical and spiritual center of the Catholic community of Seneca, now the Sunnyside neighborhood. Once situated near the intersection of Sixth Street and McLane Avenue, St. Francis rose prominently from the side of the steep hillside. In 1924, the congregation outgrew the church and established new centers of worship. Over the years, the St. Francis congregation has been located on Beechurst Avenue, University Avenue, in Westover, and along Guthrie Lane in Morgantown. Though the original church no longer stands, it was a crucial part of the development of Morgantown’s Catholic community.
Morgantown Brick Company (1899-1970s)
Morgantown Brick Company was established on this site in Seneca, now Sunnyside, in 1899. With its other facility in Westover, Morgantown Brick Company produced tens of thousands of bricks each day in the early twentieth century. While Morgantown was known for its numerous glass factories, the brickworks was part of the city’s diverse industrial history. The company disbanded in 1931, and the site later became a junkyard collecting and selling scrap metal. In 1971, the site was then sold to the WVU Board of Regents to construct the new Personal Rapid Transfer (PRT) system.
W. R. Jones Glass Factory (1902-1940s)
W.R. Jones Glass Company was a manufacturer of window glass located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Founded in 1902 by Walter A. Jones, the factory was located in Seneca, now Sunnyside, along the Monongahela River. W.R. Jones Glass was outstanding in the early twentieth century for its use of modern factory technologies. It later consolidated with other local factories and created the United States Window Glass Company. The company disbanded in 1927 and the buildings were torn down throughout the 1940s. No buildings of the original factory stand today.
Seneca Center
In 1897, Seneca Glass Company began production of glass in the newly-developed Sunnyside neighborhood of Morgantown, West Virginia. While more than a dozen glass factories existed in Morgantown by the early twentieth century, Seneca Glass is one of the few factory structures that remains from this industrial heyday. The factory ran continuously for nearly a century. After its closure in 1983, the interior of the building was redesigned and turned into the Seneca Center, containing various artisan shopping establishments, antiques and fine dining.
Morgantown Glass Factory (1900-1989)
The Morgantown Glass Company manufactured table glassware in Morgantown’s Seneca neighborhood, now Sunnyside, for over seventy years. The company operated under numerous names including the Economy Glass Company, Old Morgantown, Morgantown Glass Works, Inc., and Morgantown Glassware Guild, which reflected changes in the company’s business model and responses to larger trends in the industry. Morgantown Glass is most famous for producing the official White House crystal of John F. Kennedy, hand-chosen by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961. The company was acquired by Fostoria Glass in 1965 and disbanded in 1971. The factory was demolished in 1989 to build the Morgantown Energy Associates power plant along the Monongahela River.
Chico Bakery
Chico Bakery, a family-owned business famous for its West Virginia pepperoni rolls, has been located at this site since 1971. It was a subdivision of the Chico Dairy Company, which began in the early twentieth century. Though the Sunnyside neighborhood of Morgantown grew primarily because of its industry and manufacturing, small businesses like Chico provided residents with essential local goods. It remains one of the few small businesses left from this early history.
Morgantown Ice Company (1901-2000s)
The Morgantown Ice Company created manufactured ice at this location from 1901 to 1946. It provided manufactured ice to local businesses. From 1946 to 1957, the business was owned by North Pole Ice Company. The operation was then purchased by Chico’s Dairy company until acquired by Beech View Place to build a mixed-use apartment complex for students at West Virginia University. The State on Campus apartment now occupies all of block 15 in Morgantown’s Sunnyside neighborhood. The Morgantown Ice Company’s history reflects the wide range of businesses located in Sunnyside in the twentieth century.
Monongahela Textile Company
The Monongahela Textile Company was only in operation for six years, yet it is connected to larger histories of textile production, labor, and urbanization following the Civil War. From 1896 to 1903, the Monongahela Textile Company operated in Sunnyside near the Monongahela River and B&O Railroad, important modes of transportation for shipping the mill's products. In 1898, the company lost 125,000 pounds of wool after a warehouse in Pittsburgh caught on fire. After such a financial loss, the company struggled until it closed in 1903. The large brick mill and surrounding property was purchased by the Union Stopper Glass Company, later the Beaumont Glass Company, which operated there until the late twentieth century. The brick mill was demolished in 1998, after contaminants from the glass making process were found.
Beaumont Glass Factory (Union Stopper Glass Factory)
In 1905, the old Monongahela Textile Company buildings and surrounding property were purchased by the Union Stopper Company, where glass bottle stoppers were manufactured. By 1918, the company’s name had changed to Beaumont Glass, which was known for producing glass lampshades and light globes. Along with Seneca Glass, Beaumont Glass was one of the last operating glass factories in Morgantown, a city which once had more than a dozen successful glass companies. After leaving the ownership of the Beaumont family, the company was mismanaged and forced to close its doors in 1991. Because of contaminants from the glassmaking process, the original building was demolished in 1998 and its lot sits empty. The only buildings that remain of the Beaumont Glass Factory are additions that now house a Surplus City.

This tour was created by Pamela Curtin on 01/14/18 .

This tour has been taken 968 times within the past year.

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