The Neoclassical Old Morgantown Post Office consists of two sections: one built in 1914 and a second added in 1931. It is currently home to Monongalia Arts Center and is the only non-residential Neoclassical building in the city today. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The first section of the Old Morgantown Post Office was constructed in the fall of 1914 at a cost of $97,000. This section was built under the direction of Oscar Wenderoth, supervising architect for the U.S. Department of Treasury. The symmetrical 1914 section has three stories, including a basement, and displays a great attention to detail. Detail was concentrated on the public area, with its marble walls, revolving entrance door (replaced in 1931 with the present wood-and-glass vestibule), high ceiling with dentil cornice, and decorative iron baluster on the two-flight, open stair.
This structure introduced the town to the ideas of twentieth century architecture, and an open house, held on November 2, 1914, drew in thousands of Morgantown residents to the new building, where they received a tour of the facilities. Most interesting to the public was the “lookout,” a narrow passageway that ran through the work areas. Through it, the postal inspector was able to crawl, wearing a black mask so as not to be seen through the “black shutters” while observing employees.
This was both the first federal building and the first post office constructed and owned by the U.S. government in Morgantown. The decision to construct this building was based on the increased need for private and public services (including a post office) that Morgantown’s population boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s created.
The 1931 section is less refined than the original portion because it was not a public area. It has only one level above the basement.
In the 1970s, the post office was moved, and the building was purchase by a local family in 1976. This family conveyed the 1914 section of the building to Monongalia Arts Center, which remains at this location today.
Check out the full National Register listing here.
Learn more about this building via the Historic Downtown Morgantown Audio Walking Tour.