Did you know that…
1. Fairmont was originally settled in 1820 as Middletown—it was in between Clarksburg and Morgantown. A man named Boaz Fleming wanted to settle a new county but was unable to do so until a town could be established as the center of government. Thus Middletown was born.
2. The town was name was changed in 1843, combining the words “fair” and “mount.” There are at least six other places in the United States called Fairmont.
3. The east side of the Monongahela was its own town, Palatine, until the city of Fairmont was chartered in 1899.
4. It was the B&O Railroad’s arrival in 1886 that allowed Fairmont and all of North Central West Virginia to explode. At its peak in 1950, nearly 30,000 lived inside the city’s limits. Today less than 18,000 do.
5. One night in January 1897, a group of men came together and basically destroyed the old Marion County Courthouse. They forced the government into building a new one in its place; the one that sits today at the center of town.
6. Fairmont native Johnnie Johnson was admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame only after a campaign by Keith Richards and Eric Clapton. Johnson was Chuck Berry’s pianist and the subject of Berry’s smash hit, “Johnnie B. Good.”
7. Johnson sued Berry in 2000 to be added as a co-composer to several of Berry’s songs. The case was dismissed, however, because too much time had passed.
8. Until 1986, the historical society’s building next to the courthouse was the home of Marion County’s sheriff.
9. The old Marion County Jail has one cell that has no windows or lighting and was called “the dungeon.”
10. Hartley’s Department Store opened in the late 1880’s and didn’t close until 1985. Around the turn of the century, it was one of the largest department stores in North Central West Virginia.
11. The store’s furniture warehouse caught on fire on August 13, 1968 and was captured on this incredible video:
12. That hotel once had over 100 guestrooms. It was converted into a living center for the elderly and disabled in 1984.
13. The building that now houses the Board of Education was originally the Cook Hospital, one of the first community hospitals in the state. It led to the creation of a nurse’s school. In the 30’s the building was sold and the hospital was moved to its current location off Locust Avenue.
14. The most recent professional athlete to come out of Fairmont was East Side’s David Carpenter. He’s played for the Houston Astros, Toronto Blue Jays, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Washington Nationals.
15. The Marion County Public Library was a post office until the 1940’s.
16. A huge mansion, known as both Hutchinson House and Sonncroft Castle, once stood near East Fairmont Middle School. It was demolished in the 1960’s.
17. If you’ve got $800k sitting around, why not buy the Jacobs-Hutchinson building? It’s for sale.
18. Radio station WMMN first broadcast from the mezzanine of the now-closed Fairmont Hotel in December 1928.
19. Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton was born in Fairmont in 1968. Her father operated a coal transportation equipment business; their family’s original surname was Rotunda.
20. She attended but did not graduate from Fairmont Senior.
21. One person who did graduate Fairmont Senior was Jimmy Delligatti, the inventor of the Big Mac. He graduated in 1936.
22. The old Miller Junior High School was named for Professor Thomas C. Miller, who became principal of the first graded public school system in the county in 1876.
23. Fairmont Senior officially named the Polar Bear its mascot in 1926. From 1914 to 1920, Frank Ice coached there, and the teams were known as “Ice’s Men.”
24. Thanks to an abundance of sand and natural gas, Fairmont was well known for its glass industry in the early 20th century.
25. And in case you missed it, yes, the pepperoni roll was in fact invented at the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont in 1927 by Giuseppe “Joseph” Argiro.