By Joe Obidzinski, Preserve WV AmeriCorps member, and Kelli Shapiro, PhD, Program Associate
If you are looking for some fun and exciting things to do this summer, check out the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail! Summer is a great time to enjoy a nostalgic movie-going experience at one of the state’s drive-in theatres – such as our Trail members, the Warner’s Drive-In in Franklin and the Sunset Drive-In in Shinnston. Many of our member sites, like the Ritz Theatre in Hinton, are showing some of the season’s most popular films. The Capitol Theatre in Wheeling, which has primarily been a performance-oriented venue in recent years, is even featuring a weekly, summer film series that offers affordable entertainment for audiences of all ages. With 29 member sites across the Mountain State, there are a plethora of opportunities to enjoy.
A number of our Trail members across the state offer great children’s/youth theatre and performing arts programs over the summer, a wonderful way to get young people interested in theatre and the arts. Perhaps you are looking for some live music performances, or even a play or musical. The West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail features many fantastic venues for these types of entertainment as well! There are even summer concert and performance series occurring at Trail sites, including Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg and the Randolph County Community Arts Center in Elkins.
Here at PAWV, we are hard at work on a number of projects for the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail, such as completing an article about the development of the Trail for Marquee, the journal of the Theatre Historical Society of America. We hope that the article will not only highlight the Trail itself, but also the great preservation work done by organizations operating theaters all across the state. We are also in the process of adding Trail members’ information to the Clio heritage tourism website/app (http://www.theclio.com) and will let everyone know when the members’ pages are ready for viewing.
Meanwhile, PAWV’s book project that sprang out of its work with the Theatre Trail is coming along well. PAWV has teamed up with Arcadia Publishing to produce an “Images of America” book entitled Historic Movie Theatres of West Virginia. Arcadia’s “Images of America” books must include at least 180 historical images, and we will have no trouble hitting that mark. We currently have scans of photographs, ephemera, and postcards in hand for over 130 individual theaters across the state. We hope to include images of theaters from all of West Virginia’s 55 counties. Arcadia expects to release the book in Spring 2018, and PAWV members will have the first opportunity to purchase this book. We hope that it will be an excellent promotional opportunity for the Trail and its member theaters.
No matter what type of entertainment you prefer, the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail’s members have many opportunities to enjoy the season in exciting and entertaining fashion, both this summer and throughout the year. Check out our website, http://wvhistorictheaters.com to find information about operational, historic theaters near you. Also, be sure to like and follow our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/wvhistorictheaters for updates about all of our Trail members’ upcoming events and the progress of the Historic Move Theatres of West Virginia book.