Editor’s Note: This is the 310th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — In 1980, the Cabell County Public Library moved into a new modern building erected just the 9th Street Plaza from its original vintage 1903 home.
At first the fate of the library’s old building was uncertain. The building was built with a gift from steel tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This meant that, while the interior could be altered as any new owner wished, there were sharp restrictions on any changes to the building’s historic exterior.
Enter a group of investors from Columbus, Ohio, who saw a bright future for the former library. Their idea? Transform the building into a restaurant. The Cabell County Library Board sold them the building for $185,000, and The Old Library restaurant opened in April 1982.
Co-owner Gary Gitlitz told the Herald-Dispatch that he and his partners had invested $150,000 in turning the former library into a restaurant.
The restaurant still looked much like a library, with books and shelves here and there. With seating for 180 customers, it included a bar, lounge area and game room. The bar was constructed as a square island in the middle of the main floor. Above the sofas in the lounge area was a mezzanine with tables and chairs. The lunch menu featured subs and other sandwiches, salads and pizza. The dinner menu included steak and seafood.
Initially, the restaurant attracted its fair share of customers, but ultimately it proved unsuccessful and was forced to close its doors. Since 1985, the building has been the home of Huntington Junior College.