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Herald-Dispatch file photo For a time in the 1970s and early 1980s the Mountaineer Dinner Theater offered a bit of Broadway in Putnam County.

Editor's Note: This is the 305th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

For a time in the 1970s and early 1980s the Mountaineer Dinner Theater offered a bit of Broadway in Putnam County.

Perched on a wooded knoll just a mile south of the Winfield exit off Interstate 64, the theater was opened by long-time Huntington businessman Walter H. Lewis Jr., assisted by Mary Michele as business manager and dinner hostess.

Both Lewis and Michele had long been interested in theater and were veterans of Huntington's Community Players.

While seeking a new business opportunity, Lewis visited a dinner theater in Nashville, Tennessee, and came away impressed with what he saw. He went on to visit other dinner theaters around the country and decided he wanted to try his hand at operating one.

Lewis figured that neither Huntington nor Charleston was large enough to support such a venture, but a location between the two cites might attract theater fans from both. When his 300-seat theater - designed to look like an old-fashioned barn - opened, it even attracted faithful fans from Ashland.

Touring companies of professional actors presented light comedies and musicals six nights a week, Tuesdays through Sundays.

Living quarters for the touring professionals were provided in the theater building. Sometimes talented local actors filled in a few roles. A number of local people worked behind the scenes to stage the productions. Dinner food was prepared in an on-site kitchen and served buffet style.

Faced with continuing financial losses, Lewis reluctantly closed the theater in the mid-1980s.

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