From 1831 until the present day, the core historic area of Morgantown has continually met the needs of the community. It has been the center of commerce and professional life, home to merchants, professionals such as lawyers and physicians, and tradesmen. Its upper stories provided homes to workers and families, many of whom owned and/or tended businesses at street level. Its streets and public sidewalks served as festival grounds for national holidays and local celebrations, such as the town’s centennial in 1931 and today’s Colonel Vawter Day celebration. Its buildings provided recreational opportunities ranging from public lectures, theatrical performances, moving picture shows, and athletic contests. It was also here that educational interests were met by the library, social interests were met by clubs, lodges, and restaurants, and the town was run by elected members of the town board.
From here the town spread out to accept new technologies–telephone service, gas and electric power, the municipal water and sewer system–and improvements such as concrete sidewalks and paved roads. Its merchants stayed in step with the changing times, offering citizens their first automobiles, their first Victrolas, their first televisions. It was in the core historic district that the Methodist and Christian congregations worshipped and marked rituals of the life cycle. And it was at the intersection of Washington and Marion St. that the town was connected to other Indiana cities by means of the state highway system.
In 2006, Morgantown merchants and residents desired National Register status for downtown Morgantown in order to commemorate its heritage and promote it as an exciting and viable tourist and shopping destination.
Research was conducted by Henrietta Hickman, a native of Morgantown, and Jeanne Weaver, a former Morgantown businesswoman and a 60-year resident. Both women have a keen interest in Morgantown history and a concern for its future. Without their assistance, this nomination would not have been possible.