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The City of Morgantown is the County seat of Monongalia County located along the Monongahela River and close to the Pennsylvania border in the north central part of West Virginia. Morgantown is the home to West Virginia University, the largest institution of higher education in the State with an annual enrollment of 28,898 students (Fall 2009); and is the medical, cultural, and commercial hub of the region. Daytime population estimates 70,000 in Morgantown.
Morgantown and Monongalia County offer “Mountains of Opportunity” for business development and expansion. This is one of the major growth areas in the State. Monongalia County was the only north central county to realize population growth for the last 20 years, and it has been one of the fastest growing counties in the State during the 1990’s.
Morgantown and Monongalia County have consistently seen some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. Some of the major employers in the area include the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Mylan Pharmaceuticals, West Virginia University.
Hometown Legends : Don Knotts, David Selby, Lawrence Kasdan, and Jerry West.
Annual Mean Temperature (F)…….. 52 degrees
January Mean Temperature (F)……. High 37 degrees, Low 21 degrees
July Mean Temperature (F)…………. High 83 degrees, Low 63 degrees
Annual Rainfall (inches)……………… 41.2
Annual Snowfall (inches)…………….. 30 – 45 depending on elevation
Elevation ………………………………… Ranges from a low of 960′ in the City to a high of 2100′ at Cooper’s Rock
Crime Rate Index (1995)…………….. 35.8; US 52.8
Within a 500-mile radius of Morgantown is one-half of the population of the United States and one-third of the population of Canada. Morgantown is one day’s drive from 6 of the 8 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, 20 metro areas with populations of 1 million or more, and 22 of the nation’s top 35 industrial markets.
Morgantown is closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested among settlers and native Indians, as well as the English and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the English, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the Revolution.
Several forts were built in the area after this conflict. Fort Pierpont was constructed towards the Cheat River, in 1769. Fort Coburn was built in 1770, near Dorsey’s Knob. Fort Morgan was established in 1772 at the present site of Morgantown. Fort Dinwiddle, north several miles at Stewartstown, was built in 1772. Fort Martin was established in 1773, several miles north on the Monongahela River. Fort Burris was erected in 1774 in the Suncrest area of Morgantown. Fort Kern was built in the Greenmont area of Morgantown in 1774, as well as other small forts that served the purpose at the time.
Morgantown was settled in 1772 by Zaquill Morgan. The Virginia Assembly chartered the territory in 1785 and the first lot sale was held. Morgan received the charter for the establishment of the town to be called Morgan’s Town. The direct result of the Virginia Charter is the present city of Morgantown.
Notable early structures that still stand in Morgantown include the “old Stone House,” built prior to 1813. The structure stood on the street known as “Long Alley,” but is known today as Chestnut Street. Another structure that has been well restored is the home built by John Rogers on Foundry Street. This structure was built in 1840 and is now occupied by the Dering Funeral Home.
Morgantown has seen many changes since the charter of Morgan’s Town in 1785. Since that time Morgantown has developed the finest educational, research, industrial, health and transportation facilities available in the area. A healthy business atmosphere and strong community effort assures that Morgantown has a lot of history to come.
Morgantown is made up of several neighborhoods with distinct history and personality, some of which were previously different towns which were annexed by the city as it continued to grow. Today the city includes the neighborhoods of Woodburn, South Park, Jerome Park, South Hills, Second Ward, Greenmont, Suncrest, Wiles Hill, Sunnyside, Sabraton, The Mileground, and North Hills. While some of these areas like The Mileground, Easton, and Sabraton, are in part or entirely outside the city limits, they are still considered part of Morgantown. The Morgantown MSA contains roughly 117,000 permanent residents, excluding nearly 30,000 full-time students at West Virginia University.
Morgantown was closely tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory. Until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now known as Morgantown was greatly contested among settlers and native Indians, as well as the English and the French. The treaty decided the issue in favor of the English, but Indian fighting continued almost to the beginning of the Revolution.
Several forts were built in this area and Fort Burris was erected in 1774 in the Suncrest area of Morgantown. The fort was a settler’s blockhouse located in what is now the Summers Masonic Lodge at the intersection of Burroughs and Windsor streets.
During 1885-1888, the land in the Evansdale/Suncrest area was agricultural with 400-1000 acre farms. Drummond’s Chapel was named after a minister who then moved to Missouri. The Evans Farm was located on land near Riverview Drive and 8th Street and was named for Colonel John Evans who fought in the revolution with Zack Morgan. Colonel Evans’ claim to fame was that George Washington slept in his farmhouse around 1784. Krepp’s farmhouse was located on land where the WVU Creative Arts Center, Engineering and Agricultural buildings now stand. Dilley Farm was located on the other side of 8th street. Van Voorhis Farm was located up beyond BB&T and had extensive acreage. Down Collins Ferry Road was the Anderson Farm; Jacobs Farm was below Elmhurst and Mulberry.
The Suncrest area was not a suburb yet, as everyone wanted to live close to town. The trolley cars determined how far people lived outside of the city and the cars only traveled to 8th street and traveled out to South High, Demaine, to Sabraton, South park, Greenmont and Holland Avenue to Cassville. By 1920 people were buying cars, a different generation who had money.
In 1923 Monongahela Development Company bought land from Krepps and most everyone else in the area. Suncrest Park bought Sears Roebuck house plans and divided Suncrest into three areas: Fairfield St, Suncrest Park and Suncrest. There were restrictions on who could live there – those who were African American, Jewish or immigrants were not permitted to buy land.
In 1928 the Suncrest Home Association (developers) gave 30 acres (120,000 m2), which became Krepps Park. A civic group built facilities and the park was given to Morgantown, which made some improvements.
By 1937, Suncrest needed a town government to pave streets, and provide water and sewer. Dr. Julian Leach was a WVU plant pathologist and was elected mayor; Bill Hart was also a former mayor. Suncrest finally became part of Morgantown. In 1940 the Dupont industrial park built 100 homes with 6 different floor plans around the Kenmore Street area. In 1947-1950 Gunnison homes were built in the Mulberry and Lake Street areas. The development of the DuPont Ordinance Works during World War II in Westover resulted in a large number of pre-fabricated homes being constructed in Suncrest.
Early housing developers influenced the growth of homes in Suncrest during the first decades of the 20 th Century. Old Suncrest and Suncrest Addition were among the names given to various subsections of this growing community. The names of some streets reflected the community’s participation in various service organizations, such as Civitan, Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary. Before Suncrest became part of Morgantown in 1949, it had first been incorporated in 1937 as the town of Suncrest .
In 1962/1963 the area on the right going down Collins Ferry was voted into Morgantown city proper. Streetlights were installed during a 5-year period with the help of councilmen. There was no planning for growth. The developer named the streets after service organizations (Kiwanis, Rotary) or universities (Yale, Harvard). One of the developers named the area ‘Suncrest’ because one morning as he was looking out, he saw the sun crest over a hill. The area from University Avenue to the medical School had a nice racetrack that filled up the entire valley. Just above McDonald’s was a Hungarian development with two Hungarian churches. When there was talk of building a medical school in WV, Charleston and Huntington vied for it, but Morgantown offered to give 60 acres (240,000 m2) and provide a county hospital if it was located in Morgantown. A cemetery with 200 graves near what is now Ruby Memorial Hospital had to be relocated to the West Run area. Around 1928, there was an airport near where the Coliseum is now located.
Today Suncrest is one of several neighborhood communities in greater Morgantown , West Virginia. The area is known for tree-lined streets, green parks and play areas, quiet neighborhoods and outstanding schools.
Suncrest students attend three or four schools throughout their K-12 education, starting at Suncrest Primary School or North Elementary School, Suncrest Middle School and Morgantown High School depending on where they live.
In 2000, the White House Millennium Council designated Suncrest as a Millennium Community.
Sunnyside, located just north of downtown Morgantown, is an older neighborhood adjacent to West Virginia University’s downtown campus. The neighborhood, which covers 130 acres (53 ha), is roughly bounded by University Avenue to the east, Campus Drive to the south, the Monongahela River to the west, and 8th Street to the north. Many students live there because it is affordable and is in close proximity to campus. Since 2003, Sunnyside has been classified as a “blighted district.” Sunnyside is also the scene of many off-campus parties and post-game celebrations centered on Grant Avenue.
To combat the problems facing Sunnyside, the City of Morgantown and West Virginia University teamed up to establish the Sunnyside Up Project: Campus Neighborhoods Revitalization Corporation, dedicated to the redevelopment of this area. The first step was to create a comprehensive revitalization plan, which was published in Fall of 2004. The University’s Summit Hall Dormitory and the new Honors Hall Dormitory are located in the southern part of the neighborhood.
South Park is across Deckers Creek from downtown Morgantown. Originally farmland, it was one of the first suburbs of Morgantown. In the early 1900s South Park saw a housing boom with the city’s most wealthy and influential deciding to call the neighborhood home. Today their beautiful historic houses can still be seen and are occupied mostly by single families. The neighborhood is home to Morgantown High School, built in 1924. The entire neighborhood is designated a historic district by the National Register of Historic Places.
Woodburn was originally farmland on the hills to the east of downtown Morgantown. Today it encompasses the area enclosed by Richwood Avenue (starting at Monongalia Ave) in the south and Willey Street (beginning at the Town Hill Grocery) in the north. Monongalia Ave serves as the western boundary and the eastern boundary begins in the south at the intersection of Richwood Avenue and Darst St. and continues north until Darst interesects with Willey Street at the beginning of the Mileground.
While originally home to small hillside farmsteads, as the city continued to grow in the late 1800s Woodburn grew up into a typical city neighborhood. However, many of the original farm houses are still standing and many of the names of streets such as Ridgeway Ave, are named for early families who had farms in the area. The area saw a rapid growth in population at the beginning of the 20th century when many skilled tinsmiths from Wales built houses in the neighborhood. These tinsmiths came to Morgantown to work in the tinplate mill which later became the Sterling Faucet plant in Sabraton. A trolley line ran the length of Richwood Avenue and originally connected downtown with Sabraton. The Welsh tin smiths could catch the trolley at the top of the hill in Woodburn and ride it down the hill to work in Sabraton. The Welsh immigrants were more affluent and skilled than the ordinary workers in the tin mill who were largely from Eastern Europe and who settled in the less affluent areas of Sabraton closer to the mill. The Welsh community was active in the community, especially in the Methodist Church at the intersection of High Street and Willey Street, however, they were most famous for their picnics held frequently in Whitmore Park which was the main park and green space in Woodburn. Many of these Welsh immigrants were still Welsh speakers and as late as the 1930s it was common to hear Welsh spoken on the streets of Woodburn. Woodburn Elementary School was the neighborhood school built in the 1920s to educate the growing population. It is one of the last neighborhood schools in Monongalia County.
Following WWII, many new families came to Woodburn, attracted by the parkland, close proximity to downtown, community atmosphere, and nearby school. The family of actor David Selby were among the postwar residents in Woodburn and he spent his entire childhood living in Woodburn. In 1950, Tom and Anna Torch opened the Richwood Ave Confectionary, a corner store and lunch counter that served beer in large Weiss goblets from the Morgantown Glassworks. When they sold the operation in 1963 to Mario and Rose Spina the establishment was nicknamed “Marios Fishbowl” in honor of the goblets.
The neighborhood had a neighborhood newspaper in the 1980s. In that decade, significant numbers of students began to move in, changing the character of the neighborhood. Many single family homes have been converted into student rentals.
- City of Morgantown: The official homepage for the City of Morgantown.
- Wikipedia: The Wikipedia page for Morgantown.
Much of the information contained on this page has been retrieved from Wikipedia. Other information has been retrieved from the homepage of the City of Morgantown. Both sources are linked above as “Official Links”.