May 7, 1928: Keith Albee Theater Opens in Huntington

May 7, 2019

Credit David Fattaleh / WVDT

The Keith-Albee Theatre opened in Huntington on May 7, 1928, with the comedy film Good Morning, Judge, a newsreel, and five stage acts. It was one of the most lavish motion picture houses ever built and, with 3,000 seats, was supposedly second in size only to New York City’s Roxy.

The “$2 million temple of amusement,” as a newspaper called it, was built on Fourth Avenue by Huntington businessmen A. B. and S. J. Hyman. It featured an elaborate interior, giant golden stage curtain, a ceiling studded with stars and clouds, and a Wurlitzer organ. It was associated with the Keith-Albee vaudeville circuit, which booked entertainers across North America.

By the late 20th century, the Keith-Albee Theatre still hosted movies and live acts, including orchestras, bands, and comedians for the Marshall University Artists’ Series. Today, it’s still home to headlining concerts and performances. Since 2006, the Keith-Albee Foundation has been raising funds to rehabilitate the building and to refurbish the original pipe organ. Some of the original theatre seats from the Keith-Albee Theatre are now on display in the West Virginia State Museum.