Colonial Theater

601 Princeton Avenue,
Bluefield, WV 24701

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Showing 1 - 25 of 36 comments

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm

The August 4, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World published an example of the Colonial Theatre’s monthly postcard calendar. Scan at Internet Archive.

RobertFrench on July 20, 2010 at 7:54 am

Unfortunately the Colonial Theater is gone. In 2009 a portion of the front of the Milner Hotel facade collapsed and took the front of the Colonial Theater with it. The theater was subsequently torn down and is now a grassy area.

kencmcintyre on January 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

The local papers are implying that the Colonial is gone. It would help if this could be confirmed by someone in the area.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

Was there a theater built at Bluefield in 1917 or 1918? The March 6, 1917, issue of The Ohio Architect Engineer and Builder has this item: “Architects C.C. and E.A. Weber… have completed preliminary plans for a theater and arcade…. The structure will be two stories and basement, 129x62 feet and will be erected in Bluefield, W. Va….”

A cursory search of Boxoffice turns up half a dozen theaters in Bluefield not yet listed on Cinema Treasures. The Weber brothers' project might have been any of them, or might have been the Colonial. I found one Boxoffice item about a fellow who began his theater career working at the Colonial in 1919, so it must have opened in the teens, not the twenties.

Chris and Edward Weber were well known architects in the region in the early 20th century, and designed Kentucky’s governor’s mansion, among other notable structures.

kencmcintyre on March 21, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Here is another recent article about the Colonial:

heatherdduncan on March 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

Does anyone know if the city of Bluefield or Mr. Tibbs will be selling items in the Old Colonial’s auditorium. I would be especially interested in some of the seats. Thank you!

brielbanks on March 12, 2009 at 9:25 am

I wrote an article about the Colonial -describing the theatre when Steve let me peek inside a few years ago. I found out days before the collapse about some of the performers who took to the stage in vaudeville acts – Bob Hope, Fred & Adele Astaire, Mae West, Helen Kane the boop-boop a doop girl (the original Betty Boop), Sally Rand with her feather dance, Gypsy Rose Lee with her famous burlesque act and Steve told me that Roy Rogers and Trigger came to the Colonial too!

Something really important was left out of all the newspaper articles – Mr. Tibbs hasn’t given up on the Colonial’s auditorium. We’re all holding our breath, waiting to see if the demolition of the Matz will damage the Colonial further. I hope to help him – I’m part of a team restoring a historic home in Bluefield, it’s the most difficult place you could try such a thing. There are so few people there who know how to fix modern buildings – and nobody there or in the surrounding area who specializes in restoration. So everyone trying to restore anything in or around Bluefield,WV has to get really creative.

UnknownCinemaDude on March 4, 2009 at 11:34 pm

some of the undated photos, it looked so grand back in its day. this theatre will never be Forgotton.

woody on March 4, 2009 at 10:40 am

not looking good – photo of collapsed hotel which crushed the marquee
View link

kencmcintyre on March 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

This story was posted by the Charleston Gazette:

kencmcintyre on March 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm

A story about the hotel published yesterday in the Daily Telegraph included this 1953 photo:

SDaveG on February 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

The Colonial Theater was damaged on Feb. 27 2009 by the Milner-Matz Hotel collapsing next door. The marque was destroyed. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph has the story today with history and ownership.
View link

Dave – Palm Coast, FL

colonial on July 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm

hey roxy. what are the chances of getting a copy of those photos? steve

Roxy on July 2, 2008 at 4:15 pm

This is my first posting at Cinema Treasure’s. I’ve been a viewer and reader for many years. I am and have been a theatre owner for over 40 years. I own an historic theatre built in 1920, and redone in the art-deco style in 1933.

While reading the posts about the Colonial Theatre in Bluefield, W.V., and checking the links to the pictures of the same… I thought to myself, what a great marquee that theatre has, but wait a moment… I’ve seen that marquee somewhere before? Where? It’s a very unique design, one that I would not easily forget. Then it hit me. It was featured in one of the Exhibitor yearly Theatre Catalogs that was published from 1940 through 1957 hardbound, and then with a soft cover until about 1968. Somewhere in one of those hardbound copies I known that I have seen that marquee. So I started searching as I have all of those catalogs. It took me about an hour, but I
finally found it in the 1942 eition.

It was included in a section about Theatre Remodeling and Renovating. It has two pictures. One of the new front and marquee, and one of the newly enlarged lobby. Each photo has a small insert with a photo of what it had looked like before.

Looking at what that marquee looked like when it was brand new, and seeing what it is like today… oh what a shame. Since the catalog that featured it came out in 1942, I would assume that the marquee was probably installed in 1941.

If Mr. Tibbs and the folks down there are successful in restoring that theatre, I hope they keep and restore that marquee as well.

colonial on July 1, 2008 at 5:08 pm

hi guys, this is steve tibbs, the owner of the Colonial Theatre in Bluefield west virginia. I need help, be it money, building supplies or free labor, in order to save this grand old theatre. it will take about $400,000 to put the place in working condition. this would be a usable condition not a fully restored job. anyway, i need 400,000 people to care enough about the old girl to give a dollar. that sounds simple enough, a dollar from a lot of people would save this full theatrical showhouse for future generations. bear in mind that this was a full theatre that was converted to a movie house. i need people who will show up to clean, haul off garbage, and a dozen other things. my email is “” my mailing address is “steve tibbs 120 summers st bluefield wv 24701” and my phone number is “304-327-6979"
so, in short if you have any ideas about fundaising, restoration or feel like working up a sweat, contact me.

roast2 on March 27, 2007 at 3:32 pm

steve tibbs 304-327-6979

TLBryant on March 27, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Mr. Tibbs

How may you be contacted?

kencmcintyre on December 16, 2006 at 11:56 am

Here is a 1960 article about integration and the Colonial:

Negro Pickets March Quietly In Bluefield

West Virginia’s first demonstration in the current wave of Negro protests against segregated seating practices came yesterday in Bluefield when long, silent lines of Negro college students picketed two local theatres. There were no Incidents and the demonstration barely attracted a crowd. City police were on hand, they said primarily to protect the demonstrators in case of any reactions.

The Negroes, who identified themselves as students at Bluefield State College, formed a line outside the Colonial Theater about 4 p.m. For an hour they paraded back and forth from the marquee front entrance used by whites to a rear entrance off a parking lot where Negroes are admitted to segregated rear balcony. “We Are Through Walking Alleys and Entering Back Doors” and “Civil Rights Mean Human Rights” were inscriptions on some of the signs worn by the 22 demonstrators in the first group. They dispersed voluntarily at 5 p.m.

About two hours later the Negroes reappeared, wearing the same signs, but their numbers more than doubled. The second group were bundled against the icy night winds and falling snow. After parading around the Colonial, they made two trips to the Granada Theater, about a block away, where segregated seating also is enforced. At the Granada, Negroes enter a front door, also leading to an all-Negro upper balcony section.

Colonial theater co-owner Rodney Keesling said his seating policy was in keeping with local custom. He said ninety percent of his customers were white and they-not the theater-dictate the separation of races. Neither theatre was closed nor did there appear to be any interruption of patrons entering.

The only reaction from whites apparent nearby were signs hastily posted in two grills near the Colonial. They said “Prices Subject to Change at Any Time.” One owner explained he took the step “just in case” – the Negroes should attempt to enter and ask for service. Bluefield State was an all-Negro college until the 1954 Supreme Court desegregation decision when integration was allowed in all West Virginia state-supported colleges.

RobertFrench on June 16, 2006 at 4:16 am

Yes, the Granada Theater and the Colonial Theater are theaters I grew up with. I now own the Wurlitzer theatre organ from the Granada Theater and it is currently installed in the grand Keith Albee Theater in Huntington, WV. It is the only theater organ built for the State of WV that is still in the state. It would definately be fabulus if we could raise enough money to restore that lovely Art Deco theater…I remember it well. I used to work for the owners of the theater in the 1960s. I’d be willing to work to restore a Wurlitzer for the Colonial if funds ever are available.

Patsy on June 14, 2006 at 11:32 am

steve: Yes this theatre needs to be restored as I can see that it was once a fine small town theatre.

Patsy on June 14, 2006 at 11:31 am

Interesting photos and a theatre that has sadly been neglected for far too long. Perhaps a buyer will come along!

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on February 12, 2006 at 7:45 am

Does anyone have photos of this theatre, that they’d care to share?

roast2 on February 12, 2006 at 1:32 am

the theatra is now for sale for $48,000. after a divorce, i just don’t have the heart or means to keep up with this building. this is a great building that needs to be restored.

Patsy on January 8, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Our thoughts and our prayers are with the miner’s families and the lone survivor, Randal and his family.

Patsy on January 8, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Martin: Sounds like a very sad scenario to a once quaint art deco theatre in rural West Virginia. Are thoughts are prayers are with the miner’s families and the lone survivor.