Editor’s Note: This is the 356th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — In the early days of the movie industry, many small and simple theaters were set up, usually in converted storefronts. They typically charged five cents for admission, and thus became known as nickelodeons.
According to Huntington historian George S. Wallace, the city’s first movie house was known as the Dreamland. In his “Cabell County Annals and Families,” Wallace wrote that it opened in 1905 in a building located on the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and 9th Street. That would place it where the Hotel Farr would later be built.
“About the same time,” Wallace wrote, “a second house known as the Wonderland on 3rd Avenue followed in 1906.”
Other early movie houses cited by Wallace include “the White City on 9th Street, the Fairyland on 3rd Avenue below 9th Street, (and) the Gem in 1908 on 3rd Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets. In 1910, the old skating rink on 4th Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets was taken over by Floyd S. Chapman, converted into a movie house and named the Lyric.”
By 1916, the Huntington City Directory listed nine movie houses, adding two directly across from each other in the 1000 block of 4th Avenue — the Hippodrome at 1048 and the Orpheum at 1021, next door to the Huntington Elks Lodge.
The Princess, at 1617 8th Ave., was among those listed in the 1916 City Directory. By the time the 1921 Directory was published its named had been changed to the Olden. By 1926, its name had been changed again, this time to the Lincoln.
The 1926 Directory also reflected other changes. The Strand had opened at 1037 4th Ave. It later would become the Roxy. The Shriver was welcoming movie fans at 312 Bridge St. in Guyandotte. And the Hippodrome had been renamed the State. In its early years, the State showed first-run movies but by the 1950s it was screening a steady stream of cowboy double features.