Editor's note: This is the 93rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
HUNTINGTON - Members of the 11 clubs making up the Federation of Women's Clubs of Huntington came up with the idea of a Tourist Information Center on U.S. 60 East, and a long list of individuals, businesses, labor unions and other organizations pitched in with $10,000 in donated cash, building materials and labor to make the idea a reality.
Opened in September 1962, the center was built in an A-frame design modeled on a traditional Swiss chalet, in keeping with West Virginia's nickname as "Little Switzerland." It was located on the triangle of land where Washington Boulevard and Saltwell Road enter U.S. 60 in East Huntington.
Staffed by volunteers from the Federation of Women's Clubs, the center proved popular, welcoming 10,000 visitors during the summer of 1963, the state's Centennial year.
But a problem soon developed. The clubs said they had agreed to staff the new center during the state's Centennial year but couldn't do so on a permanent basis. During subsequent years, the center was operated by various paid employees, but eventually financial support for the center dried up and it sat vacant and unused.
In 1968, the Huntington Board of Park Commissioners, which owned the land where the center stood, rejected a request from a businessman who wanted to use it as a cheese shop. A long-term policy, the board noted, prohibited the use of park land for commercial purposes. Later, the board put the property up for sale. Today, the triangle of land where the center once stood is the site of a Burger King restaurant. The state of West Virginia operates a Welcome Center for travelers at Mile 10 of Interstate 64, and the Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau is located at Heritage Station in downtown Huntington.
To read more articles from this series, go to www.herald-dispatch.com. Click on "News," then "Lost Huntington" series.