Editorials, Opinion

Once a hub, restored historic building could be one again

There’s something special about seeing history preserved, an admittedly sentimental satisfaction in knowing that the old can coexist with the new.

Which is what makes the efforts to restore and renovate the historic post office building — most commonly known to Morgantown residents simply as the MAC — as thrilling as they are heartwarming.

The building that currently houses the Monongalia Arts Center, Your Community Foundation and the Morgantown History Museum concludes a trio of historic buildings, starting with the Warner Theater (which has its own restoration plans underway) and the recently updated Hotel Morgan.

Early this month, The Dominion Post Editorial Board sat down with representatives of the Historic Post Office Inc., to learn about the plans for the 100-plus-year-old building.

The first steps are, of course, to address structural problems, like the leaking roof, the broken heat source and the addition of an elevator. Then the HPO will look at renovating the interior to maximize the usefulness of the space. (We take the HPO at its word it will do its best to preserve the historic architecture inside the building, as well as outside.) The goal, as told to the Editorial Board, is to give the museum some more space and create as many shareable, multi-use spaces as possible for MAC and YCF.

We were particularly excited to hear about future plans for the MAC. The arts center looks to fill in programming gaps in the community — i.e., what kind of arts-based, educational opportunities does Mon County need?

Michael Cardi, vice president of the MAC board of directors, floated ideas of a graphic design lab or a music recording space. While there are arts programs in and around Morgantown, few of them offer the little-to-no-cost courses or activities you can find in a place like the MAC, which, in turn, brings the joy and peace of the arts to more and more people.

Overall, the building that was once a community hub when it served as a post office looks to become one again. As HPO member Billy Adkins told us, “We see the vision of this as not just being an art center or museum, but a true community center for activities that we really need at this time.”

There are so very few places in modern society where people are allowed to simply exist without the expectation of paying for the privilege to be there — public libraries being one of them. Based on the plans we heard, it sounds like the historic post office building could become another. And that is definitely something Morgantown needs.