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.