Restoration of “Gem” in the “Jewel” Vital to Becoming Exceptional City

Updated 5 years ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Keith Albee Performing Arts Center
Keith Albee Performing Arts Center
Photo by Glen Berry

Mayor-elect Steve Williams will hold his inauguration at a 1928 Fourth Avenue icon --- the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center. When the Thomas Lamb designed theatre opened, it was one of the largest motion picture palaces between here and New York.  The Ohio Theatre in Columbus and the now razed Albee in Cincinnati were each Lamb designed theatres. Huntington’s Keith has a rare ‘atmospheric’ theme --- the stars come out on the roof dome . It’s sister theatre sets decaying in Flushing, N.Y.

Many of the movie palaces built in the 1920s represented the opulence of an elegant and graceful era, where the entertainment ranged from live vaudeville troupes , organ accompanied silent movies, and the revolution of sound, which spirited patrons to locations and periods from which they replaced rituals for two hours of wonder.

The ceremony will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan 3. It will be open to anyone wishing to attend. The Musical Arts Guild will provide entertainment for the reception at the Keith-Albee.

Williams told HNN that the Keith Albee is the only location he desired for the inaugural.

“It is a distinct reminder  of the greatness our previous leaders expected and created for generations of Huntingtonians  to follow. I hope we can be reminded of the greatness of our past and be inspired to design and develop a more Exceptional future,” the Mayor elect said.

Calling the Keith “home to countless memories” for many residents, he recounted his own favorites which included seeing “The Way We Were “ (Barbara Streisand, Robert Redford) in 1974 and “seeing my friend and high school teammate, Mark McVey, perform with Marvin Hamlisch,” who appeared as part of the Marshall Artists Series . Hamlisch wrote the musical score for “The Way We Were.”

Describing himself as a “sentimental man,” the Mayor elect stated “holding our inaugural at the Keith will add another wonderful memory to my life.”

Williams, who went on to play football for Marshall University, added,  “My first date was to see a movie at the Keith Albee. I learned that I loved big band music when I saw Count Basie perform at the Keith in 1973. My high school graduation ceremony was at the Keith Albee.

Referring to the Keith as a “gem in the heart of the Jewel City,” Williams stressed that the theatre’s “restoration is necessary for the vitality of downtown Huntington. I pray that people walking into the Keith are inspired to contribute to its restoration.”

Comments powered by Disqus