Adventure's Edge/Army Store, the longest continuously operating business in Morgantown, Since 1923.
A single Morgantown family owned and operated the Main US Army Store from 1923 until December 2001. Orginally located at 77 Pleasant St. the business has been at 137 Pleasant St. since 1928. The Army Store, as it is more commonly known today, has gone through a metamorphosis of the times since 1923. It began as a men's store run by the grandfather. It evolved into a variety
store and then to an army surplus store around the time of the World Wars. An old roll top desk left at the location produced invoices for tux rentals in the early 1950's for many of Morgantown's elite citizens. The business was passed down to two brothers. There was at some point some type of rift between the brothers as evidenced by a telegram found in the roll top that speaks of the situation. Only one brother owned the business at the time of the purchase by current owner,
In 1977, a grandson purchased the inventory and business entity Wall Street Board Exchange. This was a small but successful skateboard and snowboard shop on Wall St. in Morgantown. The inventory and business were incorporated into the Army Store footprint. To complete the outdoor store image, Adventure's Edge was opened in 1989 in the adjacent location, 131 Pleasant St. and a pass through
between the two businesses was created. The grandson operated the outdoor store, Adventure's Edge, part of the business while Stanley took care of business at the Army Store until he took ill in 2001. It was then that the family decided to sell the business.
Jan Kiger, an avid climber, backpacker and general outdoors person, had been born and raised in Morgantown, WV. She had been working in an outdoor store in Pennsylvania and when the opportunity to return to Morgantown arised, she jumped. Kiger, a graduate of Morgantown High and West Virginia University had deep roots in the community. The purchase took place in December 2001 in the wake of
the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was an unknown economic time for the US, but the business thrived under new ownership despite the uncertain times.
Pleasant St. originally ran from the Monongahela River to the Deckers Creek Valley. In the mid 1800's a bridge was built over the Mon River and in 1899 a bridge was built to span over the Deckers Creek Valley. It has been called Pleasants and Pleasant. Today it is called Pleasant and the Army store began on 77 Pleasants St. back in 1923 and moved to 137 Pleasant in 1928.. Pleasant St. is one of the few streets in the downtown other than High St. (the main street) that isn't named after a tree.
The Brick Row
In the early 1890s, Morgantown was a booming
industrial/college city, and housing was in short supply. The building that
houses Adventure’s Edge was built in 1891 as Morgantown's first major apartment
building. Named "The Brick Row Building," it was constructed in a
3-story rowhouse-style relatively rare in West Virginia. The Brick Row was
divided into 5 rectangular sections with 5 street addresses. There were
apartments on each floor. Wooden steps led up to a porch and door at each
address. A unique facade individualized each bay of apartments, with arched
openings on the front and side of the porches giving it an elegant appearance.
The building was in the heart of town, between the railroad depot and riverboat
landing and main street.
During these years the various rooms housed hundreds of people young and old--families, individuals, teachers, professors, doctors, college students,
laborers (especially tin-workers), merchants, railroad employees, etc. The most
famous resident, Morgantown architect Elmer Jacobs, lived at 121 Pleasant
Street in 1901 and possibly longer. He
designed many of Morgantown's most impressive buildings and homes (over 400,
supposedly), and much of Morgantown's current look can be attributed to him. The
lower bar of ‘123 Pleasant Street’ is now nicknamed Jacobs' House
The Big Change: 1st-Floor Conversion to Storerooms, 1921
In 1921, the start of the "Roaring 20s," stores
were vying for space on High Street and found none, so the business district
expanded onto Pleasant Street. The Brick Row was suddenly in a prime business
location. In February 1921 the building was purchased and remodeled. The
1st-floor apartments and porches were removed and the floor level was dropped
4' (removing the porches and steps, allowing street-level entry) leaving the
apartment fireplaces hanging on the walls and exposing the building's sandstone
foundation masonry. On the 1st floor both ends of the building were extended,
and yellow brick Art-Deco storefronts were added along Pleasant Street. The
former apartments, the current location of Adventure’s Edge and Army Store became spacious
storerooms with high tin ceilings and light pouring in through the large
display windows. In April 1921 businesses began opening in the storerooms,
including Coddington's Market at 121, Max Feingold's Clothing Store at 125, The
Queen Shoe Store at 131, and Hammel's Variety Store at 137. 123 Pleasant Street
remained empty until February of 1922
when The Radio Appliance Company opened the first radio store in the region,
setting up a public radio set and inviting all to experience "the wonder
of the modern age." It was a neat idea, but the store closed within two
The Middle Years: 1922-1982
Although it seemed a lucrative spot, over the next 60 years businesses came
went in the 5 storerooms. There were clothing stores, variety shops,
restaurants, an insurance company, a dance hall, a martial arts school, auto
parts stores, warehouses--some years rooms were empty. However, the upper
floors always remained apartments for a cross-section of Morgantown residents.
Often the person who ran a store on the 1st floor lived upstairs with their
family. The Manilla family opened a variety store on 77 Pleasant St. in 1923. The Army Store opened in its
current location in 1928.
At some point the Art-Deco facades were removed from the Army Storeand Adventurer's Edge.
In 1967, the Blue and Gold Bar opened but quickly wentunder, yet it began a series of watering holes (70s joints like Jean and John's
Tavern, Bob's Tavern, The Golden Nugget, Le Rendesvous, and The Fox Trap
Lounge) in the building. In 1974, the Sportsman's Bar opened , and remained
until 1978. Another bar, Cool Runnings, took over in 1980 followed by Meteo's
in 1981. The
Blue Ribbon Restaurant operated in what is now The Adventure's Edge, 131 Pleasant St..