Restore the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center Retrospective

Updated 9 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor

 

 Restore the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center Retrospective
MPE Enterprises

As the campaign to restore the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center jazzes up downtown tonight, it marks the commencement of a fifteen year plan to raise funds to fully restore Huntington's gem to its 1928 glory.

MPE Enterprises, which sponsors the gala, has provided several before/after possibilities of various aspects of the showplace. The photos illustrate how much more exceptional the gem radiates as donations enable more and more restorations year after year through 2028. 

Backstage Electrical System Now
Backstage Electrical System Now
MPE Enterprises

The vision does not flicker off when the lights turn out. This is a project that continues throughout the year and throughout nearly a generation.

On May 8, 1928 the Grand Dame of Fourth Avenue, the icon often referred to as the $2 million dollar temple of amusement (in 2013 dollars estimate $27 million), opened its doors to Huntington for vaudeville, motion pictures and touring shows. Eighty five years later, the icon celebrates a successful fund raiser to repair the roof, which hopefully will keep the nearly 3,000 seat Thomas Lamb atmospheric movie palace as an operating landmark for another 85 years.

Electrical After Proposed Restoration
Electrical After Proposed Restoration

Brothers A.B. and S.J. Hyman built the Keith adding it to their list of theater's on Huntington's Fourth Avenue, then, the Orpheum, State, and later the Tipton. The opening day performance on May 8, 1928 featured performer Rae Samuels, nicknamed the “Blue Streak of Vaudeville” for her versatile acting ability.
In celebration of the theaters birthday in April, we ran two photo galleries. You're invited into the theatre in a 2013 photo taken just prior to the inauguration of Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.http://www.huntingtonnews.net/62224

However, the next photos flash back to the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, including one of the front page of the Keith Albee Section published in 1928 that celebrated the ribbon cutting.  

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.”

Williams told HNN that the Keith Albee was 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 said in December 2012 .


The Hyman family sacrificed to preserve their family jewel that was loved by Huntington. After it's donation to the MU Foundation, one restoration specialists deemed it one of the best or best preserved structures of its era.     In addition to their own collection of images --- some of which we have shown previously --- after the fire at an adjoining jewelry store Greg Pauley took a series of close up photos of the cleaning of the auditorium due to smoke damage.
You can view those and other historic photos by clicking here: http://www.ourshowtimes.com/temp2.html .
 
Trifecta Productions seeks stories of individuals who would like to share their Keith experience as part of the restoration and for possible use in a forthcoming documentary on the majestic movie palace.

In a photo below, we linked the past --- where period model Elsa Littlepage posed as a 20s film star along with the daughter of councilman Scott Caserta, who represents future generations.... bonding the time line of the historic structure's impact on past and future generations.

 Restore the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center Retrospective

Today's top HNN stories are a retrospective from the past few years of important moments in the post-movie theater life of the Keith Albee.

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