213 5th Street,
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Smoot Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Architects: Fred W. Elliot
The Smoot Theatre was built in 1926 in downtown Parkersburg, the finest of seven theatres in that city.
It originally was a vaudeville house, but when it was acquired by Warner Brothers in 1930, it switched to primarily showing movies. It also received an elaborate remodeling from Warner, in an ornate Art Deco style, with hand-cut Austrian chandeliers in the lobby, beveled mirrors lining the lobby walls, and mahogany and brass doors.
The auditorium featured curved stairs on either side of the stage and lighting fixtures which echoed those in the lobby. The color scheme, in whites, creams and gold gilding, was followed throughout the public spaces of the Smoot Theatre.
From its earliest days, the Smoot Theatre was very popular, and in addition to movies, such celebrities as the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, Arthur Lake (Dagwood in the “Blondie” films) and even a Miss West Virginia have appeared on the stage. After decades of entertaining the citizens of Parkersburg, the Smoot Theatre finally was shuttered in 1986.
Miraculously, just a few days before the Smoot Theatre was scheduled to be razed, it was saved by a volunteer group determined to bring the old theatre back to life. Though not in the best of shape, most of its original Warner-era decor was still intact and was restored through old photographs, drawings and the memories of townspeople.
Meticulous detail was put into the renovation of the Smoot Theatre when work began in 1989, including returning the original paint scheme, recreating carpets to resemble ones from the 1930’s, cleaning the chandeliers, and relighting the marquee.
Since its grand reopening, the Smoot Theatre has been host to everything from rock concerts to comedy shows to ballet. Its imposing Neo-Classical facade, and brightly lit marquee are once again, as in decades past, a centerpiece of downtown Parkersburg.
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