Alpine Theatre

205 8th Street,
Marlinton, WV 24954

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The Seneca Theatre was opened in 1924. It was renamed Alpine Theatre in 1935. Seating was listed at 205. This theatre was operated by the Alpine Theatre Circuit in Kingwood, WV. The theatre was closed in April 1963. It was destroyed by a fire in January 1968.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm

The Pocahontas Times had listings for the Alpine Theatre as late as April, 1963. The last movies I found listed are Blue Hawaii and The Castaways, showing on April 11, but the next issue available is April 18, so the house might have closed any day during that week.

The Alpine Theatre was one of several buildings destroyed in a fire that struck Marlinton’s downtown in January, 1968. GenDisasters has a page with two very small, blurry photos here. I can’t tell if the photos show the theater or some other building.

In 1933 and 1936 there was a house called the Seneca Theatre operating in Marlinton. As the Alpine circuit grew primarily by taking over existing theaters, frequently renaming them, it’s possible that Seneca is an aka for this Alpine.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 19, 2017 at 10:10 pm

An old photo has revealed the location of the Alpine Theatre in Marlinton, though the exact address is still a guess. The Gen Disasters link in my previous comment says that the buildings destroyed in the 1968 fire were at the corner of 8th Street and 2nd Street (it’s actually called 2nd Avenue.)

This web page has a scan of page 7 of the April 11, 2013, issue of Marlinton’s newspaper, The Pocahontas Times, which features a 1959 photo of 8th Street being resurfaced, with the view being east from 2nd Avenue. The Alpine Theatre can be seen at the left, its entrance in the last storefront in the Alpine Hotel Building.

The building across the street with the stair-stepped parapet is still standing, and has the address 204 8th Street, so the theater was most likely at 205 8th, though it might have been 207. The lots the theater, hotel, and adjacent storefronts once occupied is now the site of the modern First Citizens Bank building, which uses the address 201 8th Street, but I’d say the theater entrance was probably just about where the bank’s front entrance and freestanding sign are now.

The Alpine Hotel originated in 1905 as the DeArmit Hotel, and the theater was built as part of an expansion that opened in 1924. The project had been noted in the October 20, 1923, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“MARLINTON, W. VA.— Marlinton Hotel Company has plans by Knapp & Haviland, Charleston, for three-story brick and tile theatre and hotel building to be erected on Main street, to cost $30,000.”
Principals of Knapp & Haviland were Bernard L. Knapp and Charles Arthur Haviland. From references on the Internet it’s clear that Haviland was by far the better known architect, and his partnership with Knapp appears to have been rather brief.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 20, 2017 at 4:49 am

An item in the December 4, 1935, issue of The Film Daily mentions a house recently taken over by Anderson & Urling’s Alpine Theatre Company. It doesn’t give the name of the town, but I have come to believe that it refers to Marlinton. It says:

“W. E. Keller, West Virginia operator, has opened the Lyric. The Seneca Theater in the same town has been taken over by the Alpine Circuit, operated by Anderson & Urling, and renamed the Alpine. House was formerly operated by C. E. Cooper.”
I have found a reference to the Lyric Theatre in Marlinton in 1937, and references to the Seneca Theatre there prior to this 1935 item. Marlinton is the only West Virginia town where I have found references to theaters of all three of those names (Alpine, Seneca, and Lyric), so I conclude that the 1935 item must be about Marlinton. It follows that the hotel was renamed the Alpine Hotel when, or sometime after, the theater was renamed.

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