Appalachian Theatre

Main Street,
Appalachia, VA 24216

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Previous Names: Appalcaia Theatre

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Appalachian Theatre

Was a theatre in downtown Appalachia, Virginia. The Appalachia Theatre was opened by 1934, It was destroyed by fire on January 15, 1950.

Contributed by Jamie

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

kencmcintyre on May 8, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Destroyed by fire on 1/15/50, according to the Kingsport Times. Status should be closed/demolished.

Fire Destroys Theater In Appalachia

An early morning blaze completely destroyed the Appalachian Theater here Sunday. According to Fire Chief H. W. Grubb, the stubborn fire was discovered at about 3:30 a.m. by a Negro cleaning the theater and it took the Appalachia and Big Stone Gap fire departments about four hours to bring it under control. Neither Grubb nor E. J. Skinner, manager of the theater which is operated by Darnell Theaters, Inc., of Buffalo, N. Y.,would attempt to estimate the amount of damage done by the blaze.

50sSNIPES on May 16, 2021 at 7:53 am

MK Murphy, who operated a few theaters since 1905 across both Virginias, Virginia and West Virginia, had the opportunity to be the first manager of the Appalachia Theatre (formerly a Mineral Motor dealership). The Appalachia Theatre opened its doors on February 23, 1935 with Joe E. Brown in “Six Day Bike Rider” with no selected short subjects.

Murphy himself formerly operated the nearby Cumberland Theatre in Appalachia and the New Coeburn Theatre in Coeburn along with others in Welch, West Virginia. Blake Whiteneck of Keystone, West Virginia, who learned under Murphy and is an expert on operating the Western Electric equipment, is the main operator of the theater. Speaking of Western Electric, Western Electric’s wide-range system is the sound system the Appalachia Theatre used in their booth. Murphy’s wife and daughters handled the ticket office and the inside of the theater. J. F. Dusman, a specialist, traveled almost 500 miles from his office at 213 North Calvert Street in Baltimore, Maryland to Appalachia, Virginia to install many supplies and furnishes to the installed DaLite’s silver screen, and the projection equipment such as the theater’s “Strong Reflection” lamps, 2 Simplex projectors, high class lenses, large magazines, aluminum film reels, and a 12-section safety film cabinet. The Central Supply Company of Virginia Incorporated of Andover, Virginia furnished the building material used in its construction. The inside measurements from the insider were 48x100 feet together with an attractive lobby and the spacious stage. The capacity is a total of 800. An all-glass ticket booth is installed at the entrance. There are restrooms and smoking rooms as well. The lobby’s size is 12x32 feet and the floors were tile with tile wainscoting that were 3½ feet tall. The entire building has been lined with soundproof Celotex which catches all echoes and sound rings. This ensures a reception of the machinery’s sound. The stage which is a size of 408 inches tall (34 foot) will accommodate a total of 50 people. There are 2 dressing rooms located on the stage and four down in the basement. The stage was originally purchased in New York. The lobby and the stage were heated by hot water while the main auditorium will be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer by a separate unit located in the basement below. J. C. Gibson of Appalachia became a superintendent during the construction.

When the theater was destroyed by a fire on January 15, 1950, the Fire happened during the morning at 3:00 AM, which on that day was originally scheduled to show Cary Grant in “I Was A Male War Bride” along with a Tom And Jerry Cartoon “The Cat and the Mermouse”, a Newsreel, and This Is America’s “Spotlight on Mexico”. The last show the theater showed before the Fire is a triple-feature: Mickey Rooney in “The Big Wheel”, Charles Starrett in “The Blazing Trail” along with an unknown #3 attraction, and Chapter 2 of the Adventures of Sir Galahad. I think because on the triple-feature, I think that might’ve possibly be why the reason the theater caught itself on fire because of the projection. I don’t know yet, I might check later.

MK Murphy himself then later became the owner of the Powell Valley Drive-In when it opened on April 3, 1952.

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