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Living History

Living HistoryGreater Morgantown’s heritage is reflected in its architecture, artwork, cuisine and celebrations.  Countless customs and traditions passed down over generations are a vibrant part of daily life here and make “Mountaineer Country” an epicenter of Appalachian culture.  But the region was an ethnic melting pot as well; as early as the 1880’s into the 1920’s coal mines attracted immigrants from Europe.  Slovak, Polish, Hungarian, and Italian roots are common in the region, and their heritage has become an indistinguishable part of the Greater Morgantown fabric.


There is no shortage of ways to discover the many facets of the region’s history, starting with Arthurdale, “Eleanor’s Little Village.” The community was nurtured by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when it became the first New Deal project. The living history museum traces the fascinating connection between a West Virginia community and the First Lady in the 1930s.

Local events such as the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, WVU Mountaineer Week, Arts Walk, and the Civil War Weekend celebrating the Victory of Rowlesburg gives you the chance to rub shoulders with our locals and understand what makes our region tick.

A walking audio tour of downtown Morgantown reveals the city’s historic architecture through structures like the majestic Metropolitan Theatre, home to vaudeville acts featuring Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Helen Hayes.  No less than 10 of WVU’s downtown campus buildings are on the national register of historic places.

Just for fun, visit the Forks of Cheat Baptist Church, the first church established west of the mountains in November, 1775, and find the infamous “whiskey stone” in the front lawn cemetery.  This headstone served quite another purpose during Prohibition: here, dollars were discreetly exchanged for liquor!

Morgantown’s one-of-a-kind culture is in everything around you, from the quaint antique shops and world-famous “Pepperoni Rolls” to the Appalachian music and handmade crafts. In every way possible, the past seamlessly weaves through the essence of present-day Mountaineer Country, making it an American destination rich with heritage.

FOR MORE! » Download our Living History Brochure which includes information designed to make your Historic Tour of Greater MORE!gantown a trip to remember.

ALSO: DOWNLOAD A VISITORS' GUIDE for MORE! information.

History

Amazing Women of History

Entertaining and well researched first-person theatrical portrayals of Mary Lincoln, beloved and tragic wife of Pres. Abraham Lincoln; Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale, inspiration for Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Snow Queen" on which the movie, "Frozen" is based; Margaret the "Unsinkable Molly Brown", social reformer and heroine of the Titanic; and Nellie Bly, adventurer, first female investigative reporter. To book, contact JoAnn Peterson at
304-329‐6336 | Email

Historic Downtown Audio Walking Tour

Step back into the colorful history of Morgantown with an audio walking tour of the Historic Downtown area. The MP3 guided Walking Tour is available at the Historic Clarion Hotel Morgan on High St. in downtown Morgantown. Open 9am-7pm, daily. Call for more information. 127 High St., Morgantown, WV 26505.
304-292-8200 | Website

Seneca Center

Brick-lined walls and worn wooden floors greet visitors as they wind their way through the assortment of privately owned specialty shops. Much of the character of the building has been richly retained, intermingling classic yet distinctive merchandise with warm hospitality. Constructed in 1898, the center boasts authentic glass manufacturing tools and murals of the glass making process. The towering 100-foot glass furnace chimney still stands on the property. The red water tower, located in front of Seneca Center, is a well-known landmark. 709 Beechurst Ave., Morgantown, WV, 26505.
304-292-3900 or 800-289-7362 | Website

Dents Run Covered Bridge

The last covered bridge standing in Monongalia County was erected in 1889 by order of Monongalia County Court; the stone abutments and wood framework construction costs totaled $448! The bridge is 40 ft. long, 13 ft. wide, and utilizes the Kingpost truss design. US 19, at junction with County Route 43, west of Laurel Point.

Arthurdale

Revisit the 1930s in Arthurdale, West Virginia. Established in 1933, by the United States government, Arthurdale is the nation’s first New Deal Homestead Community. Created through President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation, the community provided a new chance at life for residents of West Virginia who were suffering from the Great Depression. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt served as the empathetic force behind the community, which became known as “Eleanor’s Little Village” because of her interest. Today, Arthurdale is a National Historic District that features 160 of the 165 original homesteads. The New Deal Homestead Museum is a multi-building museum comprised of a forge filled with original tools, a service station reminiscent of a bygone era, the historic Center Hall, the original federal government administration building, and a fully restored Arthurdale homestead. The museum Craft Shop specializes in Appalachian crafts and quality gifts. Make plans to visit the second weekend in July for the New Deal Festival! PO Box 850, Arthurdale, WV 26520.
304-864-3959 | Website

McGrew House

Historic home of one of Preston County’s most influential citizens. Listed on National Register of Historic Places. Annual and regularly scheduled events as well as available for parties, reunions, showers and receptions. 109 E Main St., Kingwood, WV 304-329-0221

Battle of Rowlesburg on Cannon Hill

Located directly across from the town at the end of the county bridge. The hill was fortified during the Civil War and was used to protect the main line of the B & O Railroad. Guided tours can be arranged by appointment. Rowlesburg, WV 26764.
304-454-9714 | Website

Fairfax Stone

One of oldest markers in the US. Marks boundary between Maryland and West Virginia, and is a state park. Located 2 miles off US 219, 4 miles north of Thomas, WV.

Hazelton Grist Mill

An operating mill well-known for grinding Preston County buckwheat. Located off I-68, Exit 29. A diesel engine operated mill; it’s a private company categorized under Buckwheat Flour that grinds buckwheat into flour. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $5-$10 million and employs 5-9 employees. PO Box A6, Hazelton, WV 26535. 304-379-7755

Smallest Church in 48 States

At 24’ by 12’, “Our Lady of the Pines” is believed to be the smallest church in 48 states! The church is always open. US 219, Thomas, WV. 304-735-3801

Henry Clay Iron Furnace

Built in 1834-36, this an example of the West Virginia’s 19th century iron industry. Open during park hours, 168 Exit 15 , Coopers Rock State Forest, WV (304) 594-1561

Forks of Cheat Baptist Church Cemetery

The first church established west of the mountains in Virginia, November 1775. During prohibition, one headstone , the “Whiskey Stone” was used to exchange dollars for liquor. Old Stewartstown Rd., Morgantown, WV.

Cool Springs Park

Open year round as a restaurant, general store and gift shop. Includes an antique farm and railroad equipment, unusual animals, a large water wheel, fish ponds and picnic tables. Open 6:30am-11pm, daily. Rt. 50, Rowlesburg, WV. (304) 454-9511

JFK Memorial

A 27-foot wide memorial featuring bronze statues of JFK and John Jr., three tall granite pillars, and a granite bench. Star City, WV near the riverfront on rail trail.

West Virginia Botanic Garden

The former Tibbs Run Reservoir which supplied water to the Morgantown area from 1912 to 1969. Some remnants of the old structures are still visible on the property. These structures can be seen from the Reservoir Loop Trail. The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk with educational walks available throughout the year, as well as handicap accessible trails and parking upon request. 1061 Tyrone Road, Morgantown, WV 26508.
304-376-2717 | Website

Museums

Easton Roller Mill

Antique steam engine, roller mills used in grinding wheat, and mill stones are all on display at Easton Roller Mill. P.O. Box 127, Easton Mill Rd., Morgantown, WV 26505. 304-599-0833

Scott’s Run Museum

A museum celebrating and preserving the history of coal and the coal boom era in Monongalia County. Coal camp gift shop. Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat 1pm-4pm. Main St., Osage, WV 26543. 304-599-5466

Charles C. Wise Library

Manuscripts, photographs, books, oral histories, and maps to aid those investigating West Virginia and the central Appalachian region. Located on WVU’s Downtown Campus in Wise Library. 1549 University Ave., Morgantown, WV 26505.
304-293-4040 | Website

History House Museum

A 3-story diverse collection of antiques, memorabilia, and photographs pertaining to the entire county. Located in the former Terra Alta Bank. Home to the Preston County Historical Society. Open Sunday afternoons June through September or by special appointment. 300 East Washington Ave., Terra Alta, WV 26764. 304-379-6612 or 304-454-9601

Cook Hayman Pharmacy Museum

Replica of a turn-of-the-century West Virginia pharmacy. Tours available by appointment. 1132 Health Sciences North, Morgantown, WV 26506.
304-293-5101 | Website

Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum

Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum - dedicated to the Mining and Petroleum Industries. Features a wide collection of mining paraphernalia. Items represent different eras in mining and oil/gas drilling and features a wide array of coal mining artifacts, books, scrip, photographs, etc. Free admission. Located in the Mineral Resources Building - Evansdale Campus of WVU. 401 Evansdale Dr., Morgantown, WV 26505. 304-293-4307

Morgantown History Museum

Offers a unique view of Morgantown’s High Street in the mid-twentieth century. Over 70 slides created from b/w photos taken in Feb, 1962. Featured Permanent Exhibit: Morgan Shirt Co. including photographs, patterns, dies, an automated sewing machine using memory chips, and shirts. Tue-Sat 10am-4pm,.175 Kirk Street, Morgantown, WV.
304-319-1800 | Website

Old Morgantown Glass Collectors’ Guild Glass Museum

Open Wed-Sat10am-3pm, Sun 1pm-5 pm, closed Mon-Tue. Please email us to schedule special times and dates. 709 Beechurst Ave., Morgantown, WV 26505.
Email | Website

Old Stone House

Built in 1795, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now home to a quaint gift shop. Service League of Morgantown volunteers work to distribute funds back into the Morgantown community. Mon-Fri 10am-2 pm, Sat 11am-3 pm. 313 Chestnut St., Morgantown, WV 26505. 304-296-7825

The Greatest Generation World War II Museum

A unique exhibit worth visiting. You will be surprised by the authentic war time scenes with soldiers and many artifacts from both Allied and Axis. Located in the Szilagyi Center (old high school). Open May through October on Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 1pm-5pm or by appointment. Groups and tour buses welcome. Please call or visit the website for hours and admission rates. Rt. 72, Rowlesburg, WV 26425. 304-329-1240 or 304-454-9634 | Website

Rowlesburg B&O Depot and Museum

Open by appointment - Located next to the train track off of Buffalo St. This museum houses only railroad memorabilia, pictures, and trains. A portion of the building is the original building. The Caboose is a B & O Caboose and is restored. Buffalo St., Rowlesburg, WV 26425. For information and viewing call Lucille Grimm 304-454-9218 or Joycelyn Ayersman 304-454-9303

West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey

The Survey is housed in a converted state park lodge that overlooks Cheat Lake. There is a mini-museum displaying minerals; fossils; casts of T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegasaurous, and Allosaurus skulls; and a full-sized Edmontosaurus dinosaur mounted on the wall. 304-594-2331 | Website

Resources

Preston County Historical Society

Three floors full of antiques, artifacts, relics and miscellaneous papers. Open June-September except holiday weekends 1:30pm-4:30pm. 109 E. Washington St., Terra Alta, WV 26764. 304-789-6888

Rowlesburg Area Historical Society Museum and Genealogical Library

Open by appointment for viewing memorabilia and doing research. It is a two-story building and is not handicap accessible. The library can be accessed by a ramp at the back of the building. Rowlesburg, WV For more information or appointments call 304-454-9303, 304-454-9695, 304-454-9226 or 304-292-9218.

Rowlesburg Tourism Commission, Town of Rowlesburg

The 1927 Centenary Bridges are on loan to the Tourism Commission and Town of Rowlesburg from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore. The whole collection has not been on exhibit in one place since 1927 and has never been outside of the B&O Railroad Museum. Many of these bridges pioneered engineering techniques for bridge construction in America. The exhibit will be on display in the Rowlesburg High School’s Szalagyi Center for the next five years. The Rowlesburg exhibit includes a model of the Cheat River Bridge, which when last seen had been swept down river 500 yards in the flood of 1985. Also included in the exhibit is a replica of the bridge General W.E. Jones, and his Confederate Raiders were sent to attack in Rowlesburg in 1863. The models range in size from 4 to 17 feet. The bridge exhibit is open weekends from May to October and during all festival occasions. 42 Poplar St., Rowlesburg, WV 26425.
304-454-2441/978-270-3847 | Website




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Greater Morgantown Convention & Visitors Bureau

1-800-458-7373 / 304-292-5081
341 Chaplin Hill Road, First Floor, Morgantown, WV 26501
Visitors' Center Open Mon - Fri 9-5
Serving Monongalia and Preston Counties

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