Morris Harvey was born in 1821 and made his fortune by
purchasing land along the New River in present-day Fayette County, West
Virginia. The land became extremely valuable as railroad barons began looking
for a route to connect West Virginia's coalfields with the leading cities of
the east. Given the mountainous terrain of the region, Harvey's land along the
New River provided the only economical path for railroad construction. Harvey invested
his earnings in banks and established the Continental Divide Gold and Silver
Company, but he is most famous for his work as a philanthropist. When the
Barboursville Seminary was in danger of closing, Harvey donated enough funds to
retire its debts and keep the school solvent. In recognition of his generosity,
the trustees of the school renamed their institution as Morris Harvey College.
The Harvey's donated an additional $100,000 to move the school to Charleston, West Virginia, a move that did not occur until 1947; thirty nine years after the schools' namesake had passed away. The school's trustees decided to expand the institution beyond its original theological mission, building programs in science and technology while expanding programs in liberal arts. With the transition came another name change announced by the trustees of the college in December, 1978. Although the School of Arts and Sciences is named after Morris Harvey, the institution is now known as the University of Charleston.
After Morris Harvey passed away in 1908, the house stayed in the Harvey family until 1931. From 1931 to 1953 the home served as the parsonage for Methodist ministers, and had various owners over the next 40 years. The home was purchased by George Soros and his wife Elizabeth Bush in 1993 and was transformed into the current bed and breakfast. The couple did extensive renovations to the house, including restoring the seven original oak fireplaces with Italian tile. The inn is currently owned by Bernie J. Kania Jr. and his family, and has five guest areas, seven fireplaces and two antique bathrooms with claw foot tubs and water closets. The Morris Harvey House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.