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Coming Down: Former Arcade / Annex Slated for Demolition Starting Monday, March 25
Prior to the sale and demolition, the City tried to rehabilitate the structure but no developers were willing to undertake the cost of restoration.
The structure contains the remains of a marble illusioned glass brick floor in the first floor hallway. At one time a tunnel connected it to an arcade on Third Avenue.
Walter Lewis constructed both the Lewis Arcade (on Third Avenue) and the smaller Fifth Avenue Arcade, next to Huntington’s City Hall. Although Tri State OIC and the Huntington Sanitary Board were among its last tenants, when originally constructed the Fifth Avenue Arcade linked with the Lewis Arcade via a tunnel, according to an article that appeared in the Huntington Quarterly’s Spring 1996 edition written by Joseph Platania.
Richard McCoy told HNN , "Walter Lewis built things to last. I recall, the building complimenting that block, being quite nice looking, inside and out." He stated that the building has "a sound base but cheap facade and poor decoration. One wonders, why it isn't restored instead of torn down," noting that other Lewis buildings on Third and Fourth Avenue have been preserved.
The Platania article focused on proof that a tunnel once existed between the Fifth Avenue and Lewis Arcades. Construction franchise records published in a September 3, 1924 newspaper article confirm the then existence of the tunnel. Interestingly, it's rationale equates to another visionary experience. Lewis predicted the establishment of shopping centers and malls and in constructing the pedestrian tunnel it was a means for shoppers to go between Fifth and Fourth Avenue without going into the exterior weather.
The article reveled Lewis' fascination with the underground. He enlarged the basement of the then Huntington Dry Goods by a excavation process similar to mining.
When touring the former Arcade, the sub-basement still contains a fire alarm system that included it, City Hall, and the former Adelphia Hotel, which sat on Ninth Street. The Cabell County Public Library envelopes the location, but the hotel --- which burned --- was on the northern portion of the quadrant as one of a series of businesses that included Nick's News and the White Pantry Restaurant.
When the Fifth Avenue Arcade (Annex) was constructed in 1925, attorneys and insurance companies rented portions of the building. You could also go to the doctor, get your hair done or join the Army. When purchased in 1946 by Polan Realty Corp., the Veterans Administration was the primary tenant.
When John F. Kennedy campaigned for President in West Virginia in 1960, the Democratic Executive Committee used portions of the building and it served as one of Kennedy's campaign organization. Sargent Shriver was prominent in the state between 1958-1960, so one can imagine the calls that originated from the building during the primary, campaign, and Presidential election of J.F.K.
Other Annex stories and pictures can be found at: