A big renovation has returned the historic Hotel Morgan to its original splendor.
Imagine for a moment that it’s 1925. You’re walking down High Street, the fall air is crisp, and you’re in Morgantown just for the night. Your reservations for the evening are in the city’s brand new, modern hotel—the Hotel Morgan. It’s overflowing with splendor and prestige.
Back then the hotel was designed to be a professors’ hangout, a memorable gameday stay, or a comfortable place from which parents visited their college students. It hosted presidents and became central to many important moments—weddings, proms, election parties, and rooftop social functions—all while delivering one of the best views of the city.
Now The Thrash Group, a real estate development firm based in Mississippi, has purchased the property for $2.5 million and plans to invest at least five times that on renovations that are underway and managed by Charlestowne Hotels. Once completed, the property will feature 83 rooms and suites, plenty of amenities, and a brand new coffee and cocktail bar called the Anvil + Ax, all behind a bold red door.
The hotel is also planning to open a rooftop bar later this year for private gatherings. General Manager Robert Mickey says he’s most excited for the hotel’s renovated ballrooms. The Grand Ballroom, a two-story, 3,200-square-foot space where many have attended wedding receptions and other celebrations through the years, will feature a fireplace, restored windows and woodwork, and black and white marble flooring.
The Monarch Ballroom, a 3,600-square-foot space on the eighth floor, features a panoramic view of downtown Morgantown. This space will open later in the year, although Hotel Morgan is already taking reservations for future weddings. “There’s really nothing that’s going to be able to touch the history and the feel of the ballrooms, and they will be amazing,” says Mickey.
Thrash Group Creative Director Ellen Tichenor is working closely on the hotel’s return to splendor. She says the group hopes the property will become the talk of the town. “The hotel will truly be a new boutique experience for Morgantown and something we hope the city can be very proud of,” she says, adding that the aim is to make it once again a hub for the city’s main events. “If it happens in Morgantown, we hope that it happens at The Morgan.”
While many of the hotel’s features have received a modern update, parts of Hotel Morgan still look very similar to when it first opened. A few rooms have been expanded and all have received touch-ups, but the most important elements have been preserved. “Anyone who visited Hotel Morgan 50 years ago, if we were to blindfold them, put them on an airplane, fly them around, land them, and walk them in the front door, they would still recognize Hotel Morgan,” Mickey says. “We have kept that history but updated everything.”
The property’s renovations aren’t the only thing to honor the state’s history. The uniform worn by the Anvil + Ax staff will be inspired by coal miners and steel mill workers to represent the working history of West Virginia, Mickey says. Even the name of the place was inspired by the state flag’s anvil and ax situated in the center. It’s little touches like these that show Thrash Group and Charlestowne Hotels have devoted real thought to the property’s newest iteration.
To reconnect the hotel with the local community, Hotel Morgan is partnering with West Virginia University, state organizations, and local charities. Excitement is high—check out the hotel’s Facebook page, where locals have been reminiscing about the hotel’s history and sharing excitement for its future.
“The response has been amazing from the people who just want to see this gem in downtown Morgantown come back to what she originally was,” Mickey says. 127 High Street, Morgantown, 304.292.8200, hotelmorgan.com, @thehotelmorgan on FB
written by Kristen Uppercue
photographed by Carla Witt Ford