Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Co-Chair

Jenny Boulware

Committee Member

Ken Fones-Wolf


Sunnyside is a 130-acre neighborhood bordering West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. Since the 1890s, it has been home to a variety of transient residents, including industrial workers, families, and individuals associated with the University. Beginning in the 1960s, Sunnyside transitioned into Morgantown's primary student neighborhood. Students took up residence in old two- and three-story frame houses broken into smaller units; often, these houses lacked necessary upkeep, failed code standards, and indicated the neighborhood's broader deteriorating conditions. Furthermore, student parties in Sunnyside grew increasingly intense and reflected negatively on West Virginia University, labeled in the 1970s as a "party school." Recently, Sunnyside has been the target of significant revitalization efforts aimed at transforming its physical, social, and cultural constructions, which have stirred conversations about Sunnyside's past as well as its future.;Using contemporary revitalization as context, this study explores Sunnyside as a cultural landscape. Drawing from interdisciplinary sources, Sunnyside fits within historiographies of higher education, deindustrialization, local history, and public history, as well as sociological and geographical studies of college towns, party schools, and urban revitalization. The first chapter is a microhistory that examines select structures in Sunnyside; it traces the stories of people who lived and worked in these structures before they were demolished to make way for an eight-story apartment complex. The second chapter looks at off-campus housing in Morgantown in the mid-twentieth century, analyzing student understandings of their relationships with town and gown communities and the quality of housing available. Lastly, the third chapter connects Sunnyside as a controversial student neighborhood and West Virginia University's party school image in the late twentieth century. Together, these studies reveal Sunnyside's diverse meanings and purposes.