Trips to Mount Airy, Part XI: Mayberry Days, 2017

When Rob and I traveled through Don Knott’s hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia on the way to Mayberry Days in 2017, our first stop was the most obvious. We went straight to the Don Knotts statue on High Street, the main commercial thoroughfare downtown.

The bronze statue was unveiled in 2016 and depicts Don as himself instead of in character. But his role as Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show is acknowledged by the Mayberry Deputy hat depicted in his right hand. In his left hand is a rolled-up script from his popular film The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

The statue is placed in front of the Metropolitan Theater, often called simply the Met by locals, where Don sometimes performed.

We also visited two important streets in Morgantown. Shortly after Don received his Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2000, a part of University Avenue was renamed Don Knotts Boulevard.

We also visited Fife Avenue, the street near Don’s childhood home that gave him the name he used for Mayberry’s favorite deputy.

The only part of our visit to Morgantown that was not successful was our futile attempt to locate Don’s childhood home.

A photo of Don Knotts’ childhood home on University Avenue from a person who years ago took a tour that used to point it out.

Don grew up in a boarding house operated by his mother near West Virginia University in town. I was able to find a photo of the original home and knew the street it was on and even the neighborhood, but we drove the street several times and came to the realization it is no longer standing. Don’s childhood there was not always happy, so that may be why the city or a private company or individual made no effort to preserve it.

2 Replies to “Trips to Mount Airy, Part XI: Mayberry Days, 2017”

  1. We.also visited Morgantown on our way to Mayberry Days in 2017. While we were thrilled to see the statue, we were tremendously disappointed that no person or organization has made an attempt to “promote” Don’s hometown. Like you, we figured the unhappy childhood might be what is mentioned, so best to leave it as is.

    1. Yes, it certainly seems like a missed opportunity for Morgantown. It may be with the university so prevalent, they are not as interested. But with the continued success of Mayberry Days, one would think the town would see the potential additional tourist dollars they are missing.

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