This historic Victorian courthouse was completed in 1891 and is the fourth courthouse built in Monongalia County. The county itself was created in 1776 when Virginia's remote western district was divided into three counties. The first courthouse for the new county, a modest wood-frame structure, was constructed near this location in 1784. The current Courthouse replaced a two story brick building constructed at this same site in 1848. Although the current building is the fourth courthouse built at this site, it still predates the city of Morgantown and remains one of the oldest buildings in the city.


  • The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
    The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
  • Photo of the Monongalia County Courthouse ca. 1900-1910.
    Photo of the Monongalia County Courthouse ca. 1900-1910.
  • Undated photograph of the courthouse.
    Undated photograph of the courthouse.

The first courthouse on this location was the reason why people inhabited what is now Morgantown, because they saw advantages to locating near the center of county government activity. The third courthouse in this location had a wooden statue of Patrick Henry on top, which was saved before demolition and is now in the turret of the current courthouse. In 1884, the county decided to build a new courthouse because the old one was deemed too dangerous, but plans for the new courthouse had to be postponed due to community disapproval. The community demanded repairs be made to the current courthouse instead of building a new one. The county obliged until the building was too far past the point of repair and the courthouse was torn down in 1890 even after two failed bond proposals for a new courthouse. The county was forced to move records out of the building at midnight due to protesters during the day. The next day the community was very displeased and tried to find an attorney to represent them in their case against a new courthouse, but all local lawyers refused. James P. Bailey, a Pittsburgh architect, made plans for the new courthouse and laid the first cornerstone on West Virginia Day, June 20th, 1891. During construction all county work was conducted from the Methodist Protestant Church on Walnut Street until the courthouse was finished later that year.

The building's interior and exterior have been well-preserved, offering residents a view of 19th century Victorian Romanesque and Italianate styles of architecture that were common in many public buildings constructed at the time. The most distinguishing feature of the building is its five story clock tower which is adjacent to a second three story tower on the southern side of the building. To the left of the clock tower and framed by the buildings various gabled roofs, parapets, stone arches and high windows is a stone arch over the main entrance which bears the word "courthouse." The building originally had a tin roof, but that was replaced by aluminum in 1962 to reduce maintenance costs. A new addition completed in 1975 holds the sheriff's tax office, and offices of the county clerk and assessor's office.

Morgantown was initially settled by Zackquill Morgan in 1772, and was called "Morgan's town." Morgantown was not incorporated until 1901, and is now home to West Virginia University.

1. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form." Monongalia County Courthouse, (accessed 9/1/2016) http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/monongalia/85001525.pdf

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Monongalia County Courthouse, Morgantown, W. Va.," West Virginia History OnView, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries. https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/008203.

"Monongalia County Courthouse, Morgantown, W. Va.," West Virginia History OnView, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries. https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/008203.