Photo Exhibit Debuts Friday at Waterfront Hotel
Morgantown Dominion Post
28 June 2012
By Lindsey Fleming
FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Frank Scafella at email@example.com or
Terri Cutright at firstname.lastname@example.org or
304-292-01168. After its three showings, the exhibit will be
permanently on display at the Morgantown History Museum at 175
Empty warehouses, rusty chain-link fences, swaths of overgrown
land — former Morgantown City Manager Dan Boroff said it may be
hard for folks who’ve only seen the Wharf District in its current,
bustling state to imagine what it was like before the rail-trail,
the restaurants, the park and the businesses in place now called
the banks of the Monongahela River home. But thanks to the efforts
of former Morgantown Mayor Frank Scafella, Main Street Morgantown,
and photographer and archivist Sue Amos, they won’t have to.
From 6-8 p.m. Friday, an exhibit, “Renaissance Morgantown,”
documenting much of the area’s massive make-over, will debut at
Waterfront Place Hotel. The seeds for the exhibit were planted in
1998, when the City of Morgantown commissioned Amos to capture the
development going on at the time, including the creation of Hazel
Ruby McQuain Park, One Waterfront Place and the accompanying
hotel, and an array of businesses.
“Sue worked until the [Waterfront Place] hotel was completed in
2002,” said exhibit organizer and co-photographer Scafella. “She’s
a real go-getter. She got to know most of the guys working on the
various projects. As Waterfront Place went up, they would take her
up in the elevator. She was shooting up there when it was nothing
more than steel beams and metal flooring. She has buildings going
up and their insides. Digging of the foundations. You just see the
whole thing, step by step.”
These images are juxtaposed with shots of that stretch of
riverfront today. There will also be some archival images taken
from Westover Hill of the city during the 19th century.
While Boroff, who was city manager at the time of the development,
said he has no exact dollar amount for how much revenue the $200
million investment in the area may generate for the region now, he
estimates that projects of its kind typically generate about two
to three times their initial costs in indirect benefits.
Scafella said it’s important to see the development as part of a
bigger picture for the city.
“What it did, in part, was bring high-tech companies, like
KeyLogic, to the city. Because it was clear, by the end of the
’90s, that these companies could locate anywhere. They didn’t have
to stay in big cities. And we have a rail-trail and a nice
riverfront area with plenty of amenities you can’t get in a city.
... And the B&O taxes from the buildings helped increase the
city’s income. ... It’s a domino effect.”
And pinpointing the one project that set the whole thing in motion
is tricky. Boroff points out that in the ’80s, then-West Virginia
Gov. Gaston Caperton made possible the expansion of the twolane
road leading into Morgantown to be transformed into today’s
fourlane thoroughfare that better showcases the river.
“That put everything in place,” he said. “Then, you needed a
That spark came in the form of a $200,000 grant given, in 1994, by
the Hazel Ruby McQuain Foundation for the creation of a
rail-trail, which allowed Boroff to leverage another $800,000 in
state and federal grants from Caperton. Scafella and Boroff also
credit former WVU president David Hardesty for choosing to locate
One Waterfront Place in the area.
“I felt it was important for the town and the university to have
common purposes, when possible, and to collaborate in the
improvement of our community,” Hardesty said. “It meshed pretty
well with the plans the city had. The new highway, the Caperton
Trail coming through, there was a synergy with city activities and
state activities. I think it’s a wonderful thing for this part of
In fact, Boroff said, it’s one of the best examples of what he
refers to as Morgantown’s greatest asset — the cooperation of its
“It flowered in a lot of different projects, and this is one of
the more visible ones,” he said.
“The private sector and the volunteers shouldn’t be left out,”
added Hardesty. “The Chamber of Commerce was vital in the process;
and volunteers supported the university and the city. Businesses
took a risk as well. It was a lot of people working together.”
And Hardesty is happy to have all that those efforts remembered
and showcased through the exhibit, which will be a permanent
addition to the Morgantown History Museum after its three showings
“It’s rare when communities stop to document their progress,” he
said. “It’s a very visionary thing.”
Friday-Saturday — Waterfront Place Hotel. Reception set for 6-8
Friday. July 11-Aug. 8 — Ar ts Monongahela, Jackson Kelly Gallery.
Reception set for 6-8 p.m. July 20.
Aug. 10-Oct. 1 — WVU Erickson Alumni Center, Statler Wilson