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Main Street Morgantown celebrates Historic Preservation Month

Join Main Street Morgantown (MSM) and a variety of local organizations in celebrating National Historic Preservation Month this month.

Each year, MSM aims to raise awareness about Historic Preservation Month. This year, it’s taking it a step further with an itinerary of educational social media features, historic exhibitions and tours, and a scavenger hunt. 

Historic Preservation Month is a national initiative started in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The month is dedicated to raising awareness about historical architecture, and encourages preservation and appreciation of these community landmarks.

MSM will be collaborating with local organizations, including Morgantown Utility Board, Historic Landmark Commission, the Mills Group, Morgantown Public Library System and Monongalia Arts Center. MSM led an initiative to proclaim May as Morgantown Preservation Month, which Mayor Jennifer Selin signed May 2. 

The proclamation detailed the value in historic preservation as a tool to grow, develop and revitalize the community — all principles that will be highlighted in MSM’s Historic Preservation Month campaign.

Throughout the month, educational social media posts will be shared to feature local historical landmarks. Alongside decades-old photographs, the posts include historical information and fun facts — for example, have you ever wondered which building included Morgantown’s first elevator? As described by the Morgantown Utility Board, it was an 1898 skyscraper relocated from Pittsburgh to Morgantown via barge.

Find other interesting details about Morgantown’s history, or share your own favorite historic Morgantown photo or fact, under the “BuildingHistory” and “LookingUpMorgantown” hashtags.

Education is the first step to appreciation, and that’s the goal this Historic Preservation Month.

“We’re really making a concerted effort to share with folks what historic resources we have,” said MSM Design Committee Chair and Mills Group Managing Principal Michael Mills. “We want folks to come downtown and explore, and really understand what’s in their own backyard.”

As part of this exploration, MSM is offering a self-guided historic walking tour and a scavenger hunt, both of which will be available at MSM’s booth in the Courthouse Square during Saturday’s Arts Walk — this Walk’s theme is “Building,” to celebrate both building community and historic buildings — and the May 18 Pop-Up Plaza. The scavenger hunt, “Morgantown is Looking Up,” will feature nine photos of architectural and decorative features of Downtown Morgantown. This encourages participants to look more closely at the finer details of Morgantown’s rich history and culture.

“Having an awareness of the history of how things have developed in their neighborhoods gives an indication of opportunities for the future,” said Mills.

Also available during the Arts Walk and Pop-Up Plaza, an exhibit of historical photographs honoring the stories of Morgantown’s black entrepreneurs will be on display in the Ward Building.

MSM also hopes to bring attention to preservation and revitalization efforts and opportunities, including recent progress on the historic Morgantown post office building and Hotel Morgan, as well as slated projects like the Warner Theatre.

“Morgantown is prime for opportunities of historic preservation of various structures downtown,” said Mills. “It’s really about making an awareness of those opportunities for economic redevelopment and investing in downtown.”

In addition to preserving and celebrating history, revitalization of historic buildings also offers an environmental and economic benefit by reusing materials rather than starting anew.

“There’s a certain aspect of the built environment, there’s an embodied energy,” said Mills. “Why not invest in what you have? Rehabilitate, preserve and adaptively reuse it for the next generation.”

In 2018, the Mills Group did just that by purchasing 88 High St., a 1961 building constructed for Hope Gas, and renovating it into the current office. They hope this project can act as an example to the potential of other historic buildings in Morgantown.

“Hopefully that’s a model to show folks how even a mid-century modern building can become an icon to show what redevelopment can look like, and what good can come to our downtown,” said Mills.

Local organizations and businesses are invited to celebrate Historic Preservation alongside MSM, whether it be promoting awareness on social media or hosting events. For more information, and to find MSM’s posts on local history, visit their Facebook page at

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