7 things you didn’t know about WV’s Historic Theater Trail

Theater stage, Greenbrier, West Virginia

 

The West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail’s grand old venues have a lot of fascinating history within their walls.

1. Several theaters– including Landmark Studio for the Arts in Sutton, Randolph County Community Arts Center and Towngate Theatre in Wheeling– are in former church buildings, retaining much of the original décor like stained-glass windows and steeples.

2. The Keith-Albee Theatre (now the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center) has hosted star-studded premieres of “We Are Marshall” (filmed partly in Huntington) and “Rain Man” (in which the central character was based on Huntington resident Joseph Sullivan.)Theater seats, West Virginia

3. The Sunset Drive-In in Shinnston, open since 1947, is the oldest operational drive-in theater in West Virginia. The Sunset screens double features on weekends throughout the summer.

4. In 1925, the Lincoln Theater in New Martinsville hosted the world premiere of “Stage Struck,” a silent comedy filmed partly in New Martinsville and starring Gloria Swanson. The actress also gave a speech to a full house at the Lincoln’s special screening of one of her earlier films, “Manhandled.”

5. The Robey Theatre in Spencer, built in 1911, is the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the United States. And in the late 1920s– when the silent film era gave way to “talkies”– the Robey became one of the first theaters in the area to install sound equipment.

6. The Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown was where a teenage Don Knotts performed some of his comedy first shows. Knotts, a native of Morgantown, started out with a ventriloquist act. He later became known chiefly for his portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

7. Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall is one of several arts institutes built by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Built in 1902, the performance arts center is 1 of only 4 Carnegie Halls still in continuous use.

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