Local Morgantown architect, Elmer Jacobs, designed the Romanesque Revival Dering Building in 1896 to house prominent local businessman Fred Dering’s harness business. Dering Harness Company was the most successful harness business in the county for 15 years, but in 1910 Dering closed his harness business and opened a funeral home in the structure. This is representative of Morgantown’s shift from agrarian to industrial in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
At the time of the building’s construction, stables and carriage shops were the chief industry in the area. However, by 1899, oil, gas, and coal were gaining prominence in Morgantown’s economy due to the expansion of river and rail transportation through Morgantown, ultimately leading many farmers to sell their mineral rights and move to the city. This marked a shift in demand in the area from rural needs to the needs of a booming population. Dering met these needs by providing funeral services to the large population.
Dering Funeral Home is still operational in Morgantown but has moved locations. The Dering Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Check out the full National Register listing here.
Learn more about the Dering Building via the Historic Downtown Morgantown Audio Walking Tour.