West Virginia Botanic Garden celebrates ‘a really special day for the garden’ with ribbon-cutting of new visitors center and gift shop

Monday saw the gathering of local organizations and community members to celebrate the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the West Virginia Botanic Garden’s (WVBG) new Equitrans Midstream Visitors Center. The event recognized the work of each individual who has brought the project’s vision to life, as well as the ways the facility will further enrich the botanic garden experience for locals and tourists alike.

Accessible from two parking lots at the entrance of the garden, the Equitrans Midstream Visitors Center is housed in a new facility emulating the modern, elegant style of the garden’s popular event venue, The Terrace at Tibbs Run. The facility features an eye-catching gift shop for nature lovers of all kinds, information desk, rear patio overlooking a garden and, eventually, will also include a cafe. Guests will be able to learn about the garden, plan their visit, purchase a souvenir and, one day, enjoy a snack or beverage.

Built by the hands of the community for the community, the visitors center has been a widely collaborative effort of Morgantown creatives, professionals and organizations. Present at Monday’s gathering were representatives from Morgantown Area Partnership, Visit Mountaineer Country Convention and Visitors Bureau, state Rep. Alex Mooney’s office, Equitrans Midstream and the WVBG team that makes all of its events, projects and amenities possible.

Rhett Dusenbury shared a statement on behalf of Mooney, congratulating all involved in the project and recognizing the ways the WVBG is one of the best examples of West Virginia’s native flora and fauna.

“Regardless of [visitors’] choices while visiting the West Virginia Botanic Garden, they will always remember their nature experience and how, for a moment, they were almost in heaven,” said Mooney in his statement.

Equitrans Midstream was thanked for its key role in funding the facility. Architect Kellie Cole, landscape designer Phil Cole, WVBG representatives Cheryl Carnegie and Jan Mitchell and contractor Jay Scorzetti were all recognized for their parts in making this project possible and creating a beautiful and welcoming center.

“This is a great representation of what happens when the community comes together to find a way to make something great happen,” said Morgantown Area Partnership vice president Eric Carlson. “We’re so happy to be a part of it.”

In addition to design and construction efforts by local professionals, the visitors center is built with some of the garden’s very own materials. In constructing the facility, a mighty white oak tree was felled. To honor the tree and continue its legacy, some of the center’s furniture was crafted with the oak’s materials. In the future, some furniture pieces created from the tree will be available for purchase.

Stepping into the visitors center is like entering a naturalist’s greatest dreams. With a WVBG representative on hand for any questions about the garden and what it has to offer, the facility also features a diverse selection of items in its eye-catching gift shop. Shelves line the walls filled with wildlife identification guides, garden supplies and decor, handcrafted artwork by local creatives, eco-friendly crafts and decor, a children’s section featuring books and tools for exploring the natural world, clothing and far more.

“We’re very purposeful about any merchandise that we have aligns with our mission,” said WVBG executive director Philip Smith. The facility truly is a physical manifestation of the garden’s efforts to harness the natural world as a way to inspire and educate its visitors.

The WVBG is always looking for ways to grow, and its visitors center will be no different. Tentatively projected for summer 2025, the facility aims to open an in-house cafe for guests to sit back, relax and enjoy a snack with a side of scenic views.

“We want people to be able to have a full experience at the botanic garden, and that includes being able to have an informed visit and not needing to rush off to go get a snack,” said Smith. “They can come here and get a nice hot sandwich or a cup of soup, and enjoy nature.”

The visitors center will officially open to the public beginning July 11, with hours from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. 

Nearly all of the garden’s operating costs are made possible by community donations. For more information on the garden or to make a donation, visit WVBG.org or stop by the Equitrans Midstream Visitors Center during its upcoming public hours.