More to Morgantown

There’s more to Morgantown than fraternities, fires and football. While many West Virginia University students consider it temporary living, many families call Morgantown home.


Hazel Ruby McQuain Park along the Rail Trail. Many residents choose to live in Morgantown for the gorgeous natural beauty and the benefits of living in a town with a fantastic economic position (like the rail trail along the Monongahela River).

Whether students realize it or not, they affect the greater Morgantown area significantly. House parties in South Park are just a few blocks away from the local high school. Monongalia County schools often dismiss their students early when there’s game-day traffic. Families live on those streets where couches are burned. Morgantown residents know the students very well, but the students rarely take the time to meet the residents. Morgantown boasts great diversity in its landscape, buildings and people, and there are a lot of folks worth getting to know.

Karyn Mock Hoskinson has lived in Morgantown since she was 6 months old. She loved it so much, she never left. She got a job with WVU Healthcare working at Ruby Memorial Hospital and raised her daughter, Hannah here.

Mock Hoskinson lives by the Mountaineer Mall, also known as the “old mall.” This area has changed a lot within the past decade or so. It used to hold a Walmart, Elder Beerman, a Gabriel Brothers among many other shops. Today it holds some offices for Mylan Pharmaceuticals and a few smaller businesses.

The change has really affected where Mock Hoskinson shops. Obviously, there aren’t many stores right next door anymore, and due to urban sprawl in the growing Morgantown area, she can no longer walk to where she needs to go.

“It is depressing that we build things and then stop using them,” she said.

Mock Hoskinson does love Morgantown, though. She enjoys the culture and diversity the university brings along with being able to live in the same city as her daughter, a current WVU student. She also loves the size of the college town.

“It is small, but not too small. It is small enough to know people and see them when you are out, but not so small that people are constantly in your business.”

Jenny and Nathan Wilson are two other locals in the area that love Morgantown, too. Along with their son, Evan, they have their own jazz band: the Jenny Wilson Trio. They play concerts at local venues like Black Bear, the Pines Country Club and more. Nathan was even recently featured on America’s Got Talent.

The Wilsons have been living in Morgantown for about 11 years.

“Morgantown has played a role in our success as a couple,” Nathan said.

“We love to go to Coopers Rock and go out on the lake and walk to the library. It’s very romantic,” Jenny said.

Although they love Morgantown, they admit it’s not perfect.

“I don’t appreciate the trash. There are little areas of town that just look like hell. I mean, just dirty, like garbage everywhere, and it’s depressing to walk through that,” she said.

Even so, Morgantown is home, and it was the perfect place to raise their two children.

“I think when you put all the pieces together that make up Morgantown: the university, the river, Cheat Lake, Coopers Rock, the variety of restaurants, proximity to Pittsburgh, proximity to Washington D.C., the little bit of nature that’s left over from all the developing, you’ve got a pretty nice place to live. It offers you culture, nature, the youthful population which makes it exciting and also an elderly population,” she said.

These are just two examples. Go out and meet the locals. Next time you’re eating dinner at Black Bear, supporting a candidate at a local political rally or just walking downtown, stop and take in where you are. Look at the art, the architecture and ambiance of Morgantown. Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you; you might be surprised they have a Morgantown all their own. Morgantown is an extraordinary place, and like the culture and friendship that defines the town, it is meant to be shared.


11 thoughts on “More to Morgantown

  1. I like this, it reminds me of Ira Glass’ “This American Life,” doing the whole man on the street interview thing. Personally I think it would be cool if you did a feature each week on the unique residents of Morgantown. I will say I wish you had quotes from the first two people that you talked about they sound kinda interesting and I’m sure they have a story to tell.

    • That’s a really good idea! Not sure if there would be enough time to make it a thing though (the semester is almost over!) And I think you’re confusing the first person I interviewed. She has two last names, Mock Hoskinson, so the whole first section is about her.

  2. Reblogged this on Eco Media and commented:

    More to Morgantown. Meet some of the non-college students that make up that other 30,000 population.

  3. Emily- I really love your post. I think about this all the time- the relationship (or lackthereof) between university students and the local community. I have lived in Morgantown for five years now and have never ventured out into the more residential communities. While the university helps the town thrive, students take and take from the community, many without ever bothering to give back. Our behaviors affect other people who may live just down the street. I love your interviews with the two families and enjoyed the information your links provide. The only thing I think that could enrich this post any more would be possibly providing a picture of the interviewees (although I know that would require gaining their permission, etc.) I just think seeing their faces would reinforce the idea that real people with real jobs, children, and lives totally separate from WVU live here. Great job!

  4. Emily,

    I think it would have been interesting to add some perspective from students into this post. I’m from West Virginia, and I have a lot of appreciation for the entire state, but from what I have seen and heard, many students not from here have never even been to another part of the state. This could potentially make it difficult for them to appreciate all that West Virginia has to offer since they see it as just a place to come party and (maybe) get a degree. Wow…this comment sounds biased, but maybe it’s something to look into.

  5. It’s not exactly fair to say that the old Walmart is not being used. Mylan refurbished the space and it is being used every day. I’m not a huge fan of Walmart, and Mylan can’t reuse a space every time big box stores chase development further out of town, but the Mountaineer Mall seems to be an example of successful redevelopment of a practically abandoned mall.

  6. The title, “More to Morgantown” really drew me in. I think you did a great job in the first sentence, telling the readers what the article will be about; “there’s more to Morgantown than “fraternities, fires and football”. I was a fan of the beautiful picture taken in Morgantown and this article could really expand your readership. These great places are far from a “Problems” in Morgantown, but at the same time it shows that poeople don’t think of these great places, but think of the bad things in town. That in itself is a “problem”. Great article.

  7. I really like this story. As a student, many people never take the time or effort to go out of their way and meet the people who actually live in this town that is hosting them during their college years. What I think would have also been interesting to see would have been the perspective of a WVU student or maybe find someone who has gone out and actually met and created a friendship with someone in the town.

  8. This is an interesting slice of life, but your focus drifts around (and away from a solid issue). The headline and lead don’t really give us a clear picture of a concrete subject. You then get into a subject that’s got some real promise – the impact of student life on locals – but after a few grafs you transition again. I want to be clear – any one of these has some potential, but all of them together produce a post that lacks a strong center. Also, the map is an interesting idea for an illustration, but it’s a bit odd considering concrete locations aren’t really being mapped. I think it’s a clever idea, it just may not quite be clear to the reader (and why not embed it instead of linking?).

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