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Where have all the Sunnyside porches gone?

Sunnyside used to be a vibrant student community close to Downtown campus but just far enough away to feel separate from the influence of the University. The streets were lined with older houses with sprawling porches perfect to accommodate the overflow of the big parties the neighborhood was so famous for. Every weekend the lively disturbances of students could be heard all through the nights. The community was also a hot spot for the notorious couch burnings and dumpster fires to celebrate big Mountaineer wins.

Goodbye Grant Avenue

But in 2012, the dynamic of Sunnyside began to change. In October 2012, WVU announced its plans to develop an apartment complex in the heart of the neighborhood. University Place also planned to include retail and additional parking opportunities. While the plans were primarily put into place to offer more housing options for students, it was no doubt an ulterior motive to dampen the partying spirit of the community. In the face of several media-making headlines about post-game riots, dumpster fires, and topping the party school charts, the University decided to undergo a culture change, moving away from their negative reputation. It was no coincidence that they chose to put a new complex in the current culture’s hub.

And so, in early 2013, much to the disappointment (and anger) of many, the entire 2000 block of Sunnyside was torn down to begin development of U Place. This demolition included the beloved and iconic bar Mutt’s (which its temporary closure sparked theories of a curse brought upon WVU athletics). The Sunnyside porches of the past were destroyed, leaving behind only memories of what the neighborhood once was.

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Image via thecityofmorgantown.com

Fast forward to 2016. Sunnyside is virtually unrecognizable, and there’s no porches in sight. There’s new construction on a privately-owned apartment complex U Club Sunnyside right next door to U Place, and University Avenue is getting an upgrade of its own.  While its facelift made the neighborhood fresher and modernized, it’s hard not to be nostalgic for the Sunnyside of the past.

Don’t get me wrong, WVU was in desperate need of a culture change. But it seems like a huge chunk of Mountaineer history is gone now. The neighborhood seems generic and hollow, and the University is missing so much of what made it unique now. Sunnyside just doesn’t seem as bright anymore.

 

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7 thoughts on “Where have all the Sunnyside porches gone?

  1. The Evansdale Crossing has potential to be a great stopping point for students who spend majority of their day on the Evansdale campus. The crossing has more food options than the Mountainlair and has some unique spots that students can take advantage of. However, just with many new things, there are some hiccups with the crossing when it comes to their dining. I know for me, the last time I went to the crossing, I stopped at Collo Rosso and I was disappointed with the overall taste of their food and I know my friends have said the same thing. They have no problem with portions because their pizza slice are gigantic, but as stated in your post, they don’t have many people coming to their spot. There was no one in line at Collo Rosso when I was there, but many students were stopping at other places to eat. Looking into various “hiccups” with the crossing is going to be beneficial and will address the issue of what needs to be improved and maybe why places, such as Collo Rosso, aren’t getting a lot of customers.

    The whole idea behind this concept of looking into the problems or complaints that people have with the crossing is current and there are so many things you could discuss. Also, creating a hashtag that individuals can use to tweet their problems that they want to talk to you about was a great idea. It can get the community involved while also providing you with content!

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  2. I lived at Summit as a freshman in 2012-13, and I feel kind of privileged to have been among the last people to live on Grant who got to experience Sunnyside as it was. It certainly was unique, but that said, I’m not exactly mourning the way Sunnyside used to be. To be honest, Sunnyside was pretty damn third-world a lot of the time, and it had to change for West Virginia’s reputation to improve at all. Sure, it had some history and character, but was it really good history and good character? Sometimes that’s got to be sacrificed.

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  3. I miss the old Sunnyside! My whole family attended school here and I remember seeing the little changes every since my older brother went to school here a few years ago. It’s crazy seeing old photos of what it used to look like because the changes were so drastic. It’s always weird running into WVU alumni and having them ask about Mutts because it’s been gone for awhile now. It seems like most alumni who don’t visit very often don’t know about the construction that is going on in Sunnyside. Just like David, I also lived in Summit Hall my Freshman year, and it was interesting to watch all of the construction from my balcony during that year.

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  4. I think most people agree with your dissatisfaction at the demolition of Sunnyside. I remember the uproar from students when the destruction began and the unsympathetic way in which it was handled by the University. People were losing their homes, and Morgantown was losing its culture. While it is sad and was poorly planned, the party image needed to be taken down a notch. It’s just a shame Mutt’s and “Mountaineer history” was taken down with it. I would like to hear more about how the creation of University Place has affected Morgantown, especially since the Superette went out of business.

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  5. I do not miss the old Sunnyside. When I was an undergraduate here from 1990-95 I made sure that I never lived in the rat-traps that littered the streets in Sunnyside. The Block Party (when classes began in the fall semester) was complete anarchy. Mutt’s was a dump as was the Superette. Local landlords and small business owners in Sunnyside did nothing to upkeep and maintain their properties and businesses for too long and the university decided to eliminate the problem altogether. For many undergraduates the couch burnings and debauchery of the Sunnyside of the past seems romantic and cool, but make no mistake it diminishes the value of your degree (which you are paying a lot of money for and working your butt off to successfully complete). Drunk, dumb, couch burning hillbillies is not a reputation any of us want.

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  6. I am extremely thankful to have been going to school here during 2012-2013 when it was really the last year you could party on Grant street. I am sad that it is gone because I always wanted a house over there so I could have a porch with my hammock set up on it, but I never wanted to live to far away from campus. So sunny side would have been perfect. While it is sad that it is gone it will help the school grow. Also that part of town had a very bad reputation for riots and a lot of drinking. So it really only was a matter of time before it was taken down so that the school could get a better reputation.

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