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The uniquely trapezoidal 1904 Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building represented the vanguard of Morgantown’s burgeoning economy in the early twentieth century. Through this wholesale grain warehouse, John Clarence Kincaid and William E. Arnett provided a model of how lucrative business in the Durbannah area of Morgantown could be. These days, the Kincaid and Arnett Building is the oldest extant commercial structure in the Wharf District of Morgantown. The utilitarian focus of the architecture has allowed the building to remain almost entirely unaltered over the years. The Kincaid and Arnett Building no longer holds heaping piles of grains, but instead hosts the local Flour and Feed restaurant.


  • The original building plans for the Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building
  • An early photo of the Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building, ca. 1945
  • Photo of the rear of the Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building ca. 1945
  • Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour building today. The repainted sign is visible on the top right
  • Barely visible Kincaid and Arnett sign on the right side of the building
  • Portrait of William E. Arnett

The Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building was built circa 1904. It is an unornamented brick warehouse comprised of three stories and a basement. The trapezoidal shape of the building is due to the railroad which cut across the back of the lot at a slight angle. The structure is built in the vernacular style of architecture – an amorphous style which simply denotes local materials and construction without the supervision of professional architects. This is not to suggest however, that the Kincaid and Arnett Building was poorly constructed. In fact, historian and engineer Dr. Emory Kemp declared the building to be in excellent structural condition when he examined it in the early 1990s. Even the hardwood floors and windows are predominantly original.

 John Clarence Kincaid was born in 1877 in Morgantown. He was educated at West Virginia University and spent many years working as a manager at a feed and flour store. Kincaid was also an elected member of the Morgantown City Council. When the owner of the feed store retired in 1900, Kincaid purchased the business and formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, William E. Arnett. Though the two men were ostensibly equal partners, in practice, it appears that Kincaid handled most business matters alone.

Kincaid and Arnett displayed astute prescience as owners of the Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Company. The placement of the company’s building in the Durbannah area, named after the property owner F. M. Durbin, was particularly important. The nearby Monongahela river allowed goods to be transported north into Pennsylvania. The building was also close to the convergence of two rail lines; the north-south Baltimore and Ohio railroad and the east-west Morgantown and Kingwood railroad. In addition to providing distribution opportunities, the railroads allowed Kincaid and Arnett to purchase specialty and premium grain such as Minneapolis flour and winter wheat from Toledo, Ohio.

The timing of Kincaid and Arnett’s business venture was as fortuitous as their building placement. Morgantown’s booming glass and natural gas economies brought throngs of people flocking to the area. Census numbers put the expansion between 1900 and 1920 at over 500%; from fewer than 2,000 residents to over 12,000. In 1913, the Morgantown Post Chronicle Industrial Edition reported that Kincaid and Arnett were processing approximately twenty rail cars of grain each month and netting $200,000 dollars a year – almost five million dollars in today’s money.

Another aspect of the success enjoyed by Kincaid and Arnett was likely due to their business practices. The Kincaid and Arnett Building was plastered with signage on all four sides. This meant potential customers could identify the company and products from any location, even the river. One sign on the front of the building was repainted in 1995 and is still visible. Another sign is visible on the right side of the building, but has not been restored. Once a customer approached the building, they would have been greeted by the Kincaid and Arnett Building’s large Late Victorian display windows. These windows allowed potential customers to see the wide variety and quality of products available. Furthermore, transom lights above the windows and doors allowed an abundance of inviting natural light to flood the warehouse – a far cry from the gloomy interiors typical of other contemporaneous warehouses.

Kincaid and Arnett had the presence of mind not to push their luck. While business was still prosperous, the two men sold the company and building to the Morgantown Feed and Flour Corporation in 1921. A variety of retailers occupied the Kincaid and Arnett Building throughout the twentieth century, but it was vacant by the 1990s. In 1995, Russel Kincaid, great-grandson of John Clarence Kincaid, bought the property and converted it into a restaurant space. These days, the local restaurant Flour and Feed occupies the building and pays homage to the grain-rich history through their name and branding. The original application to add the Kincaid and Arnett Building to the National Register of Historic Places is framed on the wall. The Kincaid and Arnett Building stands as reminder of the thriving commercial economy in Morgantown. The two men set the stage for small business success and many others followed their example. 

A&M 2990, Morgantown Flour and Feed Building Survey Report, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries. https://archives.lib.wvu.edu/repositories/2/resources/1126.

A&M 3371, William E. Arnett and Family Scrapbook, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries. https://archives.lib.wvu.edu/repositories/2/resources/1573.

Dougherty-Amick, Mary. Kincaid and Arnett Feed and Flour Building, National Register of Historic Places. May 11th 1995. Accessed July 22nd 2020. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/monongalia/95000873.pdf.

Decennial Census of Population, United States Census Bureau. Accessed July 22nd 2020. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census.html.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

West Virginia & Regional History Center

West Virginia & Regional History Center

West Virginia & Regional History Center