Gem Theater

1813 Warwood Avenue,
Wheeling, WV 26003

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Located in the Warwood district in the north of Wheeling. The Gem Theater was opened in 1913. The auditorium was reached via a long, narrow passage. Operated by Lee Huffman, it had closed by 1926.

Contributed by Ken Roe

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm

The earliest mention of Warwood I’ve found in the trade publications is this item from the February 1, 1913, issue of Motography, which is about a proposed theater two blocks up Warwood Avenue from the Gem’s location:

“Considerable inquiry is being made by citizens of Warwood relative to the time of erecting the building to be used as a nickelodeon, at the corner of Twenty-first and Main streets. C. D. Thompson, of Wheeling, who represents the company which proposes to establish the moving picture show stated, in answer to an inquiry, that work on the building will be commenced shortly after the first of the coming year, and it is expected to open the show for business next spring.”
The item was obviously written quite some time before being published, and I don’t think Mr. Thompson completed the project. However, the Gem must have opened in 1913, as a theater in Warwood is mentioned in the January 10, 1914, issue of Motography:
“L. H. Hoffman will soon begin to enlarge his motion picture theater on Main street, Warwood. This is the only theater in the town and many people are turned away every evening because the place is too small.”
The first mention of the Gem by name appears in the February 21, 1914, issue of the same publication:
“The improvements which were made to the Gem picture house at Warwood are about completed.”
There was a house called the Warwood Theatre in Wheeling, probably in the Warwood district, at least as early as 1918. This item is from the January 6, 1919, issue of The Film Daily:
“Wheeling, W. Va — The Warwood theater reopened Dec. 28th after a shut down of eight weeks due to the epidemic.”
This is the only mention of the house I’ve found. The only theater listed at Warwood in the 1926 FDY is the Patterson, with no seating capacity given, and from 1927 on there is only the 300-seat Lincoln Theatre. I don’t know if Warwood Theater was later name for the Gem or was a different theater.

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