Statement of Significance (as of designation - February 18, 1997):
The Matewan Historic District is exceptionally significant in the history of labor organization in America. It was the scene of the "Matewan Battle" of May 19, 1920 where coal company officials tried to remove union workers from company housing. The conflict was precipitated by striking coal miners who demanded the company recognize the legitimacy of the United Mine Workers of America. The coal companies retaliated by bringing in armed guards to evict miners from local mines and their families from company housing. The ensuing conflict left ten people dead. The episode was a pivotal event in the eventual end of coal company control in West Virginia.