Over the course of the 20th century, West Virginia contained an impressive diversity of movie theatres--ranging from multipurpose auditoriums in company towns to early nickelodeons and from ornate, urban picture palaces to neighborhood movie houses and suburban drive-ins. In the state's working-class areas, as well as in upscale districts where industry barons lived, residents came together to find amusement and relaxation in these invaluable venues. Many of these theatres have since disappeared from the landscape, while others sit vacant or have been converted for other uses. Some, however, have been reopened or restored. They proudly provide their communities with entertainment today, whether showing films or hosting the performing arts. They serve as catalysts for local revitalization and as success stories showcasing the value of historic preservation.
Kelli Shapiro, PhD, is the program associate for the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, the statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation in the Mountain State. One of its programs is the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail, a heritage tourism initiative promoting the rehabilitation and sustainable operation of the state's historic theatres for the enjoyment of the public. The book's images came from a wide array of museums, archives, and collections.