Editor’s Note: This is the 330th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — An arcade is a type of enclosed building that houses many different shops.
Once nearly every large West Virginia city had at least one arcade. Until it closed, the Huntington Arcade at 913 4th Ave. was the state’s last surviving arcade.
Designed by the Huntington engineering firm of Leete & Maupin, the two-story structure was built by the Ritter family in 1925 and so was often called the “Ritter Arcade.”
Because it provided a handy entrance to the offices on the upper floors of the adjacent First Huntington National Bank building, it was also sometimes called the “Bank Arcade.”
The arcade’s plain façade offered a sharp contrast to its ornate interior, where colorful terracotta panels ornamented the first floor and Tudor shields decorated the second level. A huge skylight provided lots of light.
Retail shops and other business lined the first floor, while the second level offered office space for doctors, lawyers and other professionals.
Just a partial list of the arcade’s tenants in the 1950s and ’60s would include the Powder Puff cosmetics shop, Albers Coffee Shop, the Arcade Barber Shop, Lombard’s Beauty Salon, the Arcade Book & Card Shop, Ridenour’s Arcade Pharmacy, Hite & Waldeck Insurance, Brandenburg’s Jewelers, the Arcade Newsstand and, of course, the Peanut Shop. The basement was home to a popular bowling alley and billiard parlor.
As downtown Huntington struggled with the competition offered by the Huntington Mall, the arcade’s retailers began disappearing. Once a shop at the arcade was vacated, it generally stood empty.
Finally, developer Dennis Johnson bought the building and invested $2.5 million into turning it into a condominium complex, which he named the Galleria. It opened in 2014.