History of Morgantown West Virginia

Morgantown is best known as home to the legendary West Virginia University. It is located along the Monongahela River and consists of various neighborhoods. Most of the neighborhoods were once small towns annexed by the city as it prospered. Here is where you’ll find the amazing Monongalia Arts Center and Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park, and many nightspots and entertainment establishments catering to residents and college students.

However, there is still more to Morgantown than what you see now. Let’s discover the colorful and rich history of our wonderful city.

Struggle Over Territory

Morgantown is closely associated with the Anglo-French struggle for its territory. Before the Treaty of Paris in 1763, what is now referred to as Morgantown was aggressively contested among native Indians and settlers, as well as the French and the English. The treaty favored the English, but resistance by the Indians continued almost to the start of the Revolution. Furthermore, many forts were constructed in the area after the conflict.

  • Fort Pierpont – built towards the Cheat River (1769).
  • Fort Coburn – constructed near Dorsey’s Knob in 1770.
  • Fort Morgan – established in 1172 at the present location of Morgantown.
  • Fort Dinwiddie – north several miles at Stewartstown, was constructed in 1772.
  • Fort Martin – built in 1773, several miles north on Monongahela River.
  • Fort Burris – constructed in 1774 in Morgantown’s Suncrest area.
  • Fort Kern – erected in the Greenmont area of Morgantown in 1774, as well as other small forts.

Eventually, Morgantown was settled by Zackquill Morgan in 1772. The territory was chartered by the Virginia Assembly in 1785 and the first lot sale took place. Morgan got the charter for the establishment of the town to be named Morgan’s Town on Oct 17, 1785. The direct outcome of the Virginia Charter is the present city of Morgantown, WV.

Historical Structures

Early structures still stand in Morgantown including the Old Stone House, constructed before 1813. This structure is located on the street known as “Long Alley,” but is now called Chestnut Street. Another well-restored structure is the house built by John Rogers on Foundry Street. It was built in 1840 and is now used by the Dering Funeral Home. However, if you want to learn more about Morgantown’s rich history and culture, then check out these places:

  • Morgantown History Museum– It’s a local museum that offers a glimpse of Morgantown’s High Street in the mid-20th century through photographs and featured exhibits.
  • Art Museum of WVU– WVU’s Art Museum has several visual art exhibits featuring many themes, cultures, and experiences. It is accessible to the public and visitors can enter this museum for free.
  • Monongalia Arts Center – A local arts and culture center that features two galleries, a community theater, and arts education.
  • Marion County Historical Society– Established in 1912, the former home of the county sheriff now functions as a museum featuring the old jail and exhibits about West Virginia’s past.
  • The Wilson School Museum– A museum featuring Appalachian musical instruments, artifacts of the Bower’s Pottery, early school exhibits, as well as relics from the gas and oil industry.
  • Bice-Ferguson Museum– Visit this museum to learn about the history of the Greater Shinnston area.
  • The Levi Shinn Log House– Discover this authentic historic log home that was built in 1778.

Morgantown is one of the top places to live in West Virginia for many reasons. Mainly because it provides its residents with a suburban environment that is abundant in culture and history.


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