MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three murals will soon help to beautify the downtown area thanks to local artists and Main Street Morgantown’s work.

Jennifer Ramsey is currently painting the first of three, a local artist, on the Morgantown Parking Authority garage on Pleasant St. Barbara Watkins, Main Street’s executive director, said the murals would beautify downtown but also help with economic revitalization.

Ramsey working on Friday afternoon

“We thought murals would really enhance a visitor’s and the community’s experience when they come downtown,” Watkins said. “It’s a great place to have a mural that when you’re coming in is welcoming, inviting, and just adds some beauty to the downtown.”

Watkins said the original idea for the murals came in 2015, but Main Street quickly realized that they would be too expensive. Instead, it focused on inexpensive beautification efforts, such as wrapping trash cans with art downtown.

Six years later, the murals can become a reality. In all, 16 artists submitted applications, and three were picked.

Main Street’s executive director said this is all possible because of a collaboration that helped fund Main Street’s Organizational Grant Program.

“The organizational grant program is made possible by funding from the City of Morgantown and the Monongalia Co. Commission through a collaborative effort between Your Community Foundation (YCF) of North Central West Virginia and the Arts Council of Greater Morgantown,” Watkins said. “Funds from other sources may also be granted through this process.”

YCF, Watkins said, donated $5,000, which was critical. Main Street then took that money, combined it with funding from the city, county, and fundraisers it had in the last few years.

“We have about $12,000 to do three murals,” Watkins said.

That might seem like a lot of money to some, but Watkins said she thinks it’s worth it.

She’s not the only one who does. On Friday, as Ramsey worked on the mural, drivers and passersby slowed down to admire her work in progress. Some drivers even honked in approval.

Ramsey working on the Pleasant St. Mural

“We see a lot of people talking about how great it is to have the murals downtown,” Watkins said. “And the local artists, they have been hard too, so just to commission a local artist to do a mural downtown after 2020, that’s always a great thing. But yeah, people really — have really loved when — you have something like this going on. They think it’s great, so we’ve had a lot of publicity from this mural which is fantastic. And that’s what we want. That’s what we want for our downtown. That is our goal, to bring awareness to what we have down here, and the murals are one of the ways to do that.”

Watkins said she was happy to see the public excited and grateful that nonprofits, the city, and the county came together to make this possible.

Even if not for the murals, Watkins said she hopes everyone who has a chance will stop by downtown Morgantown.

“Please do, stop by because it’s a great place to visit and to live.”