MORGANTOWN — The red doors on the landmark Hotel Morgan are open for business, and travelers are welcome.

Some finishing touches are still being put on the High Street hotel, which will celebrate its grand opening March 23, with Gov. Jim Justice in attendance. But walk into the 96-year-old structure and it's as if it is a completely different place from just two years ago.

Gone is the dated furniture and smallish rooms. In their place are dark woods, mosaic floors, and updated rooms with flat-screen televisions and windows that overlook downtown Morgantown. There is an updated fitness center - open 24 hours - in the building's basement, where the Montmarte restaurant used to be. All told, it's a combination of retro and contemporary with walnut furniture.

``We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the community,'' said Robert Mickey, the hotel's general manager.

Hotel Morgan was purchased in November 2019 by the Thrash Group of Hattiesburg, Miss., for $2.5 million from the family of R. Ted Brant, who had purchased the property in 1999. Brant, who was from Short Gap, Mineral County, died in 2001.

Hotel Morgan is the first property in West Virginia for Thrash Group, which is known for its mixed-use projects across the country. Thrash projects can be found in Raleigh, N.C., Lexington, Ky., Indianapolis, Atlanta and Phoenix.

Initially, Thrash wanted a rooftop bar on the eighth - the top - floor. Plans, however, have been changed, said Karen Forsythe, the hotel's director of sales. Instead, that floor - which is still being renovated - is going to be a 3,600-square-foot ballroom that will include an inside bar and covered outdoor bar and four bathrooms. That space, she said, will be used as a wedding venue and should be ready by late summer or early fall.

``The old girl is looking pretty good,'' said Forsythe, adding she has already gotten inquiries about renting the eighth floor, which has been dubbed the Monarch Ballroom.

Each of the hotel's 81 rooms and two suites have been refurbished. Besides new walnut furniture and flat-screen TVs, rooms boast luxury linens, oriental carpets, chaise lounges, retro mini refrigerators, custom wardrobes and upscale bathrooms. In addition, the building's entire HVAC system and its guest elevators have been replaced.

The hotel kept its signature 800-pound chandelier that hangs above the staircase leading from the lobby to the mezzanine level, where two conference rooms are located. Also kept was the hotel's original mailbox.

There is a two-story, 3,200-square-foot ballroom on the first floor complete with a fireplace. That space, Forsythe said, has already been rented several times for gatherings.

What has changed is the hotel's plans for a sit-down restaurant. When Thrash first purchased the hotel in late 2019, there were plans for one on the eighth floor. Now, only the first-floor bar and coffee area on the first floor - called Anvil + Ax - is the only place where food can be purchased. Menu options are limited to hand-held food and snacks.

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