The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, in collaboration with Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), the state’s leading historic preservation organization, are sponsoring a series of planning meetings dedicated to historic theaters. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the historic West Virginia State University (WVSU) Capitol Center, 123 Summers St. in downtown Charleston, from 10 a.m. - noon. Lunch will be provided. The planning meetings are free to individuals and historic theater groups.
Funded with a $100,000 Preserve America Matching Grant from the National Park Service, the SHPO and PAWV hope to use the meetings to organize theaters and develop programs to promote and strengthen them. The meetings will bring together historic theater groups from across the state to discuss issues and concerns facing them. The meetings also will identify areas for statewide collaboration and provide a venue to discuss funding for theater preservation projects.
Bryan Ward, planning and education coordinator for the SHPO, says “Historic theaters provide a unique opportunity for historic preservation and heritage tourism in West Virginia. Groups across the state are doing amazing things in their communities and we hope to build on their success by promoting these efforts and providing them with funding to do even more.”
Registration is required by Feb. 22 for the Charleston session at the WVSU Capitol Center. For more information or to register for the meeting, contact Ward at (304) 558-0240, ext. 723 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A second planning meeting for historic theaters will be held in Morgantown at the Monongalia Art Center, 107 High Street, on Wednesday, March 12 from 10 a.m. - noon. Lunch will be provided for that session as well. Register with Ward by March 5. Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed. Interested participants who are unable to attend either of these meetings should contact Ward.
The WVSU Capitol Center traces its roots to 1912 when it was a vaudeville theater named the Plaza Theater. Following a fire in 1923, the theater was restored for live performance and equipped with movie projection equipment to show “talkies.” It reopened in 1924 with the new name Capitol Theater. The theater closed in 1981 and remained vacant until local investors purchased the building in 1984. The following year, the restored theater was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and opened as a performing arts center. The facility was transferred to WVSU in 1991 and today is known as the Capitol Center. The multi-purpose building houses five classrooms, a computer lab and an 800-seat auditorium.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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