Sister of Flushing’s Keith Needs Federal “Offset” Funding to Keep the Curtain Rising
HUNTINGTON, WV — Huntington’s Keith-Albee could meet the wrecker’s ball due to federal and state subsidizing of a competing 14-screen stadium multiplex one block away.
The Transit Authority, which is administering the federal portion of the project, claims it has complied with all historic and environmental laws. However, the TTA director claims that the Keith is not on the Federal Register.
The State Historic Preservation Officer, however, has said the theater is listed as part of the downtown historic district and entitled to all benefits of federal registration. But the Federal Transit Administration, TTA, and State Historic Preservation Office refuse to consider the impact upon the activities at the Keith.
Federal funding to “offset” impact of Pullman Square theatre upon Keith may be Keith’s only hope in this Appalachian community where financial movers and shakers have too much on their plates.
For the full report, read my story on the Graffitti Online website.
(Photo by David Fattaleh)
As a Huntington native, I grew up going to movies and perfomances in this beautiful theater. I want to do whatever I can to prevent it being destroyed. As an architect, I recognize the architectural value of the Theater. After visiting cities like Louisville, KY and Cleveland, OH, it is clear that with extensive renovation, these old theaters can become profitable venues for music concerts and other performing arts. The Keith Albee needs comfortable seats (and comfortable aisle spacing), state of the art sound, lighting, and stage equipment, and refurbished decor. With a modern multiplex cinema going in just blocks away, there is little chance of the Keith being able to compete in that venue. I think in order to survive, the property owner needs to be creative, and adapt to the current market. If there are no solutions available to him other than tearing the building down and building a parking lot, then perhaps the time has come to sell the property to someone with the resources to adapt the structure so that it can be preserved well into the future. How can we help?!?!?!
For the Keith to survive , the federal agencies MUST comply with mitigation aspects of laws related to federal undertakings affecting activities at historic properties. Contact the FTA, TTA, WV State Historic Preservation Office, American Council for Historic Preservation, and National Trust for Historic Preservation. Legally, the theatre should be entitled to federal money under NHPA, DOTA 4(f), Sec. 106, and NEPA, such as annual maintenance costs, due to the grant money building the new theatres. The theatre will deteriorate rapidly, if it closes, though. The owner said that it won’t take 20 years to fall into disrepair. In fact, an IATSE worker predicted the interior would be damaged in one or two years. Tentative plans have been made to “cut off” utilities in the stagehouse portion. Email me at
Does the current owner even want to apply for federal grants? Has he expressed interest? From my experience in working with those grants, it’s a half-time job, at least, just by itself. Here’s an alternative suggestion: what about Marshall University as a potential buyer for the building? While the new Edwards Playhouse can host student theater performances, Marshall needs a repertory cinema for its students. We have one in Chicago that plays art movies for $6 and is always full. Also, Marshall has used the Keith Albee for film festivals in the past. If Marshall acquired it, they could go about getting federal grant money, since they have far more experience with that than the current owner. Of course, this would all depend on the owner’s being willing to sell…