Upsizing? Downsizing? Just moving to town? Morgantown has a neighborhood for every budget and lifestyle. We asked residents all over town what makes their neighborhoods great. Short commutes, big lawns, front porch culture, lake access—whatever your jam, there’s a neighborhood just waiting to welcome you.
Sera Zegre and her then-fiancé, Nicolas, were living at the South Park–Greenmont line, across from Gene’s Beer Garden, in 2009. But what they really wanted was to be able to walk to work and to the grocery store—which, for work on the Evansdale campus, meant Suncrest or Evansdale. Their Evansdale cottage has turned out to be perfect for them and their family of, now, two school-age children.
Sera likes the boundedness of Evansdale. It has a cozy, close-knit feel—and no through-traffic, so the flat streets are quiet enough for kids to bike. Residents are diverse in age, profession, with home ownership status. It’s a well-tended neighborhood with some grand homes, views over the river, and sidewalks throughout, so residents walk for exercise and socializing as well as to shop at Kroger and to eat at the many nearby restaurants. And although she would like to have a park in the neighborhood, WVU amenities make a pretty good family playground. “In the wintertime, there’s a great sledding hill right here at the edge of campus,” Sera says. “We can go see the natural history museum in Percival Hall, which is incredible. We can also walk up to the greenhouse, which in the winter is such a refuge.” Year-round, it’s an easy walk to WVU’s Student Rec Center, where she works, and the family spends a lot of time there.
Because Evansdale is small, only a few homes go on the market each year. But for those who want a central location with lots of amenities close by, it’s worth the wait.
Ivy Deal and her husband, Eric, used to live in a family-owned house near the stadium. But when major new construction came to the area in 2014, they decided it was time to buy. They looked in Woodburn, Wiles Hill, Sabraton, and South Park, and came to see that Greenmont was right for them.
“It’s such a diverse and inclusive neighborhood,” Ivy says. “We’ve got lots of great neighbors—older folks, families with children, college students, young professionals, and it’s people of all races, economic backgrounds, religions, and sexual preferences. We like that a lot.” Neighbors gather on each other’s porches in the warmer months.
Once a working-class neighborhood on the streetcar line between downtown and Sabraton’s tin mills and glass factories, Greenmont today has more little restaurants and bars than a lot of neighborhoods. “Madeleine Marie’s restaurant just opened and it’s a little jewel of a place,” Ivy says. “Phoenix Bakery is awesome, and we have Chestnut Brew Works and of course Gene’s Beer Garden. And Quantum Bean Coffee, they’re a great new addition to the neighborhood.” The new Deckers Creek pedestrian bridge has brought Greenmont even closer than it was to downtown and the rail-trails.
Ivy is now president of the active neighborhood association, which is working on the possibility of pocket parks and community garden space. “I think Greenmont is an affordable, vibrant choice for a very large section of potential home buyers or renters,” she says. “We’ve got something for everybody.”
Matt Koepke grew up in Cheat Lake and went to WVU for college and dental school. His 2012 residency in Charleston, South Carolina, led to a great life near the ocean, collaborating with plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, California. Then a lifelong friend called and said, “Hey, have you ever thought about opening up your own office back home in West Virginia?”
Fast forward a few years and Matt is living in Star City, a block from his own Appalachian Oral Surgery Center, and he couldn’t be happier with the change in lifestyle. “I wake up in the morning and walk to work. That’s how America was built, especially the Italian culture—you lived on top of where you worked.” His isn’t the only service to move into this former glassmaking community lately. “I get my hair cut here at Diamond Cuts. A physical therapy place just came in. There’s an endodontist, that’s another dental specialist, one block away, and she and I refer to each other.” Business owners work where they live and are friends. “It’s really cool to have that true community feel.”
Matt has taken up bike riding. “When I’m done seeing patients I’ll get on my bike, ride down one massive hill, and I’m at the rail-trail. Ride to downtown along the river, ride back, an hour of exercise—it’s a luxury.” And art is a growing part of life in Star City. Terra Cafe hosts live music performances and displays local art, the Wow! Factory offers frequent workshops, and Unique Consignment holds an opening with a new artist every month.
Star City is an affordable choice right beside the river and near shopping and the highway. And it’s up and coming, Matt says. “As opposed to driving through Star City to get across the bridge, people are looking around—buildings are catching their eye, because things are changing. Anyone who has an inkling to give back and help a community prosper, there’s an opportunity to step up.”
When Danielle and John Trumble’s young family was outgrowing the two-bedroom house and small lot they rented in Woodburn, they looked all around town and outside town for just the right configuration of bedrooms and yard—and in the end bought a larger house with a larger, flat, fenced yard just down the street in Woodburn. That suits them just fine. “Our part of the neighborhood is mostly older people, older families,”
Danielle says. “We really like the amenities here: We have a couple of parks, and a playground down the street. We’re able to walk downtown to the farmers’ market or for dinner. And there are a lot of creative people here and a lot of events with the artists, and we enjoy going to those kinds of things.” It’s kind of a perfect location, John says. “We’re right in town, but you don’t necessarily feel like that all the time.”
John, an IT engineer, serves on the Woodburn School Redevelopment Commission, which works to keep the 1910 former elementary school in good condition as a center housing nonprofits like the PopShop performance academy. Danielle stays at home with their five-year-old son, and she’s bringing fresh energy to the recently-in-limbo neighborhood association—an effort that will likely succeed, because the neighborhood has plenty of residents who are active in efforts across town.
Woodburn is approximately defined by Richwood Avenue and Snider and Willey streets. It also encompasses the city’s oldest park, Whitemoore Park, which has an extensive trail system extending from downtown to Sabraton.
When Katy Lewis’s husband, Brad Webb, got an offer from WVU in 2017, they had just one four-day visit from San Francisco to find a house. They’d narrowed their search to South Park and Suncrest after an earlier visit, neighborhoods they felt would be as walkable as they were used to. Because her husband would be working at the medical center, Suncrest turned out to be a good option.
Suncrest is a favorite neighborhood for families with young children. It has big, flat lawns that homes closer to downtown never had, and it’s known for its good schools. Soon after Katy and Brad moved to town, they had their first child. Katy, an immigration attorney who works from home, likes being able to walk to WVU’s Child Learning Center daycare and to Krepps Park—she’s especially looking forward to the pool at Krepps Park opening this spring. Brad sometimes walks to work, and the couple can also walk to places as varied as the arboretum, the Art Museum of WVU, Kroger, and a variety of restaurants. And the rail-trail is just a short drive away.
“This has has been a really good landing spot for us,” Katy says. Homes in Suncrest sell at a bit of a premium to homes in many other Morgantown neighborhoods. What residents gain for that is a place in a well-cared for neighborhood and proximity to most of the amenities in Morgantown.
Miranda and Jesse Street met as undergraduates at WVU and never left Morgantown. They rented near Cheat Lake after they graduated in 2012, because it was convenient to Jesse’s first job as a petroleum engineer. And as they prepared to start their family, Cheat Lake turned out to feel right for them. They bought a townhome in the area, and then, in 2017, to stay in the Cheat Lake school district, they bought their house in Imperial Woods.
“I love our neighborhood,” Miranda says. “I can walk my daughter to school. And it’s nice because, nowadays, technology is all kids want to do, but in our neighborhood kids are outside any day it’s warm enough. It’s like one big family—on our road there are like 10 kids, and all the kids tend to be at one house. That’s how it was when I was younger, and it’s nice that she gets to experience that.”
The Streets’ daughter learned to swim in the lake. They bought a boat when she was little, and the family goes out on the lake most weekends. The area satisfies lovers of other outdoor activities, too, with easy access to paddling on the Cheat River, hiking and rock climbing at Coopers Rock State Forest, and cross-country skiing at Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area. Homes on the Morgantown side of the lake have the lake community feel with quick commutes to town; homes on the far side are more of a retreat from town and university.
Cheat Lake feels like a small town all to itself, Miranda says. “We always joke it’s like a little civilization of our own out here.”
The Frum family was living in their fourth house, in the Thistledown development south of town, when they noticed something funny about their lifestyle. Any time they traveled, they’d make sure to book an Airbnb rental within walking distance of everything. “But then we’d get home and live in a house where had to drive to absolutely everything,” Chris Frum says. His wife, Julie, an interior designer by training, had always liked the architectural character of South Park homes, so they moved again in 2016 one of Morgantown’s oldest neighborhoods.
The whole family likes the way South Park’s walkability has fit into their lives. “Julie works on the downtown campus,” Chris says. “I can get to health sciences by walking to the PRT, and our son can walk to the high school. And we enjoy walking to dinner out.” South Park is quieter than some neighborhoods they’ve lived in, he says—with the fun exception of the 250-plus-piece Morgantown High Red and Blue Marching Band assembling on their street before football games—and he likes the sociable flow of neighbors strolling for exercise or walking their dogs. As a cyclist, Chris also likes the quick access to the rail-trails via the 2018 Deckers Creek pedestrian bridge.
Gracious early–twentieth century homes make up much of South Park. The lower neighborhood offers flat lots and quick walks to downtown; residents on the upper streets walk a little harder but gain stunning views over the Deckers Creek Valley and downtown. All enjoy streetscapes of landscaped lawns and mature trees.
Patrick Hathaway and his then-fiancée, now wife, Jennifer, bought their first house in 2016. They chose First Ward for the walkability to Hathaway’s job on WVU’s downtown campus and for the affordability among near-campus neighborhoods. He enjoyed walking to work for a couple years—then switched to a job on the Evansdale campus, too far to walk. But it’s all for the best, because they’re happy in First Ward.
“It’s a very quiet community,” says Patrick. He’s president of the First Ward Neighborhood Association. “It’s a safe neighborhood and a good mixture of young families and lifelong older residents.”
Most of First Ward is flat with good-sized yards and sidewalks, and a lot of it has a harmonious uniformity. “When you walk around the neighborhood, you can tell a lot of the houses were built at the same time from the same catalog,” Patrick says. It has more parks than any other neighborhood, he says. That includes Jack Roberts Park in the heart of the neighborhood, with a playground, picnic pavilion, and lots of open space, and White Park, with multiple ballfields and five miles of wooded trails. There’s also the Morgantown Ice Arena.
First Ward lies south of downtown and, including a small area north of Dorsey Avenue, extends south to White Park. If the Hathaways decide at some point to buy a larger house, they’ll look there first, Patrick says. “Once you get down here, you realize that there’s not a better place in Morgantown to live.”
Wiles Hill-Highland Park
WVU alums Mindy Jimison and her husband, Larry, bought a house in Cheat Lake in 2006. Over the years they’d often drive into town for evening walks in the neighborhoods and, one evening in 2016, they happened up Highland Avenue. They were stunned. “We could see the Mon River, Westover, and all of downtown. The sun was going down, and it was the most beautiful location. We thought, this is all the things we love.” They weren’t even looking to move, but they knew Morgantown’s neighborhoods and realized Wiles Hill would be perfect for them.
“We’re closer to our friends here. And I feel like we’re healthier because we’ll walk to dinner, we’ll walk to friends’ houses, we’ll just walk out the front door and go for a walk or jog in the evenings,” Mindy says. “We walk everywhere—and then Uber home because we’re at the top of the hill. It’s perfect for us.”
Located between WVU’s campuses, Wiles Hill is central to everything in town, yet a little removed. Highland Park, just across Willowdale Road, is a little leafier, with a gentler landscape. The heart of the neighborhood is Wiles Hill Park, with its playground and its former school now managed by the city’s Board of Parks and Recreation (BOPARC) as the Wiles Hill Community Building.
Homes in Wiles Hill and Highland Park are largely owner-occupied, and residents take pride in their properties, Jimison says. An active neighborhood association represents neighborhood interests before the city and keeps residents engaged and informed.
Ashley Hardesty-Odell came to Morgantown for college in 1996. Over the years she lived on campus and in Suncrest, and later at the top and then the bottom of South Park. But in 2017 she and her husband, Shawn Odell, started thinking about a change.
“I was always drawn to the traditional homes in South Park and still love that style,” Ashley says. “But once we had a child and we were thinking of having another, I was looking for something with a more open floor plan—something that, with me and Shawn being usually in the kitchen, would allow us to all be together.”
They were house hunting only casually, but then a friend who lived in South Hills heard a certain place was going on the market and told Ashley she needed to take a look. The 1960s home won their hearts.
“We have a big open space now where the kids can play and we can be close and all be together,” Ashley says. “And it’s much more quiet and serene than where we were down by the high school.”
South Hills’ location on a rise between South Park and Sabraton feels like a retreat but makes for easy access to downtown and out of town. Homes date to the 1960s and later with big yards, mature plantings, and a lot of privacy. Streets don’t go through to anywhere else, so traffic is minimal.
South Hills is a cozy neighborhood, at just 140 homes, but interested homebuyers can usually find one or two on the market at any given time. One of South Hills’ best attributes: “The view is incredible,” Ashley raves. “We have wonderful views of the sunrise.”
When Phil and Kellie Cole started looking for a house in 2014, they wanted to be within walking distance of her office downtown. They looked in South Park and Greenmont. But then she did some research and suggested they consider Westover. “I really just thought of Westover as Holland Avenue to I-79, point A to point B,” Phil says. “So we drove over the bridge and up around the curve, and we were really surprised with these beautiful old neighborhoods with large trees. We just immediately loved this side of the river as much as the other.” They both remember that, the first time they drove by their house in Westover, they saw families walking and kids riding bikes. “It had a nice warm vibe—it reminded me of my childhood,” Phil says.
The Coles now live on a quiet street of traditional homes a 15-minute walk from both downtown Morgantown and Westover’s triangle. They’re avid walkers, runners, and cyclists and appreciate being close to the rail-trails. At the same time, they’re also a short drive from the highway—convenient for Kellie, who also teaches at Fairmont State. Their neighbors are all ages and very social, and they all look out for each other.
Phil, a landscape designer, and Kellie, an architect, are connected with residents’ efforts on behalf of the town—streetscaping, clearing trails at the Westover City Park—and the enthusiasm behind those efforts gives them a positive outlook. “Lots of young and middle-aged professionals have come since we’ve been here, and we just feel this energy,” Cole says. “It seems like we’re right at that tipping point of bigger things to happen in Westover.”