Let’s begin with a little Morgantown history…
Morgantown was once part of America’s frontier. Thomas Decker is believed to have created the first settlement here in 1758, but it was not until 1772, when Colonel Zackquill Morgan settled in the area, that Morgantown became a permanent settlement. The settlement grew quickly, with Morgans-Town receiving a charter from the VA Assembly in 1785 in the location of present-day Morgantown.
In 1867, West Virginia University was established in Morgantown to fulfill the terms of the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act. However, it was not until the B & O Railroad reached Morgantown in 1886 that the city went through a period of growth. While Downtown Morgantown once housed predominantly residential structures, in the early 1900s, many of these homes were converted into the retail and office locations that exist here today.
The Morgantown New Dominion claimed, “Almost all the architectural beauty of Morgantown is due to the skill and progressive ideas… of our resident architect.” This architect was Elmer Jacobs, the designer of many of the buildings on this tour, and the individual who transitioned Morgantown’s architecture from its modest past to its flourishing future.
The historic district of Downtown Morgantown follows the same general grid that was laid out by Zackquill Morgan and features 122 historically significant buildings, with eleven achieving individual listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout Downtown Morgantown, visitors can view the building craftsmanship and downtown character that captures our town’s evolution from the early 1800s to the present.