Morgantown recently surpassed Parkersburg as the third-largest city in West Virginia. It’s just one sign that this bend in the Monongahela River appeals to college graduates, academics, established professionals, and retirees alike.
Whatever your demographic and lifestyle, there’s a neighborhood here for you.
Near Downtown & Campus
History, charm, and walkability—South Park is pricier than other near downtown neighborhoods, but it delivers with treelined streets, manicured gardens, and architectural detail. Many homes date to the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and more than 500 are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Residents nearer downtown have flat lots and quick walks across the bridge to shops and restaurants; many higher on the hill enjoy views over town. Morgantown High students walk to school, and families can often hear the marching band on football Friday nights.
With lots of starter homes with good-sized yards, sidewalks everywhere, and flat, quiet streets, First Ward has long been a favorite neighborhood for young families. Grassy Jack Roberts Park, at the heart of the neighborhood, has a playground, basketball court, and ballfield, and the hill that gives a great view of the 4th of July fireworks makes for even better sledding in winter. Walking and biking trails criss-cross forested White Park at the neighborhood’s edge, and the Morgantown Ice Arena sits just beyond that. Longtime local hangout Mundy’s Place offers good pub grub and often hosts live music.
A one-time working-class neighborhood on the streetcar line, Greenmont offers all the walkability and history of South Park at a more affordable price. Owners and renters share this neighborhood of early-20th century homes on compact lots. Unlike many other parts of Morgantown, Greenmont hosts restaurants and hangouts right in the ’hood: places like Phoenix Bakery, Madeleine Marie’s Catering and Carryout, and hangouts like Quantum Bean Coffee, Gene’s Beer Garden, and Chestnut Brew Works. And a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge has made it a quick skip to the Deckers Creek rail-trail and just a few more steps to the farmers market, library, shops, and restaurants downtown.
Woodburn lies on a neat grid beside Richwood Avenue, just east of the university’s downtown campus. It’s a neighborhood of racial, economic, and age diversity, and residents enjoy a quick walk to downtown, either directly, by local streets, or via the extensive trail system in adjacent Whitemoore Park. Woodburn serves as home to M.T. Pockets Theatre; Town Hill Tavern and Cheese Louise are favorite hangouts, and Mario’s Fishbowl is voted Best Neighborhood Bar by our readers year after year.
Near Hospitals & Evansdale Campus
Wiles Hill-Highland Park
Homes in these neighborhoods located between WVU’s two campuses date from the 1920s to the 1960s. Wiles Hill’s terrain, above Stewart Street and Willowdale Avenue, makes for sometimes dramatic views across the Mon River, while leafier Highland Park to the east of that central corridor is a little flatter. It’s all within easy walking distance of the medical campus and Milan Puskar Stadium, making it game day central. Children play on quiet streets and at Wiles Hill Park, and the Wiles Hill Community Building holds a community art studio and a wellness room with workout equipment and hosts workshops and senior activities.
Suncrest including Evansdale
Families love Suncrest’s broad lawns and quiet streets. Krepps Park hosts baseball, picnic pavilions, a dog park, and an outdoor swimming pool with a freshly updated kiddie pool. Suncrest’s schools are the most diverse in town—students at North Elementary speak more than 40 languages at home.
That’s in part because professionals and scientists like Suncrest, too, for its nearness to the medical centers and to other employers that draw from an international talent pool.
Nested in adjacent to Suncrest is the tidy enclave of Evansdale, between 8th Street and Evansdale Drive—a neighborhood distinguished by a tight-knit and welcoming feel, spectacular views over the Monongahela River from the backs of homes on Riverview Drive, and Blaney House, the sprawling, beautiful home of the president of WVU.
Everyone loves Suncrest’s easy access to restaurants of all types, from fast-casual to quirky independent to fine dining as well as many ethnicities.
Close to Highways
Jerome Park is named for the destination the West Virginia Traction and Electric Company established on its trolley line between Morgantown and Sabraton to give people a reason to ride on weekends. The refreshment stand and dance pavilion have gone the way of the trolley, but the working class neighborhood remains. Jerome Park attracted Italian and African American families employed in the coal mines and Sabraton’s factories, and it’s even more diverse today. Residents in these several hundred homes dating mostly to the 1940s and 1950s enjoy quick access to downtown in one direction and to Interstate 68 in the other. They’ve created a layground at Paul Preserve park and, for more vigorous activities, they can cross Route 7 to the tennis courts and swimming pool at Marilla Park. Their closest hangout is Mario’s Fishbowl.
Steady growth in new shops and office spaces along Star City’s University Avenue business corridor is gradually transforming the town from a sleepy former glassmaking hub to a destination. Homes all across the compact town are walkable to many local services, centrally located between shopping centers, and an easy drive from the interstate. Star City takes advantage of its position on the Caperton Rail-Trail and its long Monongahela River frontage with boating and fishing access, a park and picnic pavilion, and a big playground. Residents love the espresso drinks, healthy meals, sweet treats, and trailside decks at Terra Cafe and, for an evening hangout, they head to Crockett’s Lodge.
Westover & Granville
On the west side of the Monongahela River and just off of Interstate 79, Westover and Granville offer quiet, affordable, family-friendly neighborhoods. The popularity of the shopping centers within their city limits means city services like parks, police and fire response, paving, and snow removal are well-funded. It also means a wide variety of shopping close by, including the soon-to-open WestRidge Business and Retail Park.
Subdivided in the early 1900s, Sabraton’s Norwood Addition on the east side of Hartman Run Road is home to about 150 families; homes date mostly to the 1940s and 1950s. Lots range from wide lawns with views to wooded stands and privacy higher and farther out on the hill, and the entire neighborhood sits high enough to be a quiet remove from the Sabraton business corridor. The ballfields, tennis courts, and swimming pool of Marilla Park are just up the road. Groceries, hardware and outdoor supplies, and other needs can be met just minutes away on the corridor, and local hangouts include Pizza Al’s, Rio Verde, Sabraton Station, and Woodburn Shanks Pit BBQ. The neighborhood association connects residents through monthly meetings and through events shared with
neighboring Jerome Park.
Away From it All
If breathing room and outdoor recreation are your thing, Cheat Lake is for you. This community on the shores of a river dammed a century ago to produce electricity offers large, wooded lots and homes ranging from modest mid-20th century bungalows to 21st century mansions with all the latest amenities. Life on the lake makes for easy access to boating of all sorts, and everyone enjoys lakeside drinks and sunset dinners at Crab Shack Caribba, The Lakehouse Restaurant, and Whippoorwill Bar & Grill. All that plus class II to V whitewater rafting higher on the Cheat and the area’s best hiking at Coopers Rock State Forest, all just 20 minutes from town.
Perched on a rise between downtown Morgantown and the Sabraton corridor, South Hills is close to everything but feels like a retreat from the fray. Many of the 1960s and later homes on large lots are architecturally stylish, and the hillside terrain means lots of privacy, great porch sitting, and dramatic sunrises and sunsets. Several of the streets don’t go through to anywhere, so joggers and dog walkers enjoy quiet pavement, and the residents of this neighborhood of just 140 homes often stop and chat. Yet for all its seclusion, South Hills is a few minutes’ drive from the conveniences of town.
posted on May 21, 2020
photographed by Pam Kasey, Nikki Bowman Mills, and Hayley Richards