Rex Theatre

72 Walnut Street,
Shinnston, WV 26431

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Moore Opera House

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The Moore Opera House was built in 1889. It began screening movies around 1910 and was renamed Rex Theatre. It was gutted by fire in 1940.

Repairs were carried out and it reopened as a skating rink. This was followed by use as an exhibition hall and was finally used as a garage. It has since been demoished

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 9, 2023 at 10:58 am

I came across this old Facebook post (with photo) that says the Rex was in the town’s old Shinnston (or Moore) Opera House on Walnut Street. Comments on the post say that the building was gutted by a fire in the 1940s and then rebuilt as a skating rink.

Other sources indicate that the Opera House was built in 1889, but CinemaTour lists the Rex Theatre aka Opera House as having been in operation from 1910 to 1940. It’s possible that it began showing movies in 1910, though it wasn’t listed in the 1914-1915 American Motion Picture Directory (the book gives Shinnston a miss altogether.) The fire probably gutted the building in 1940. The rehabbed Rex building later served as a skating rink, then an exhibition hall, and was apparently last used as a garage for a Chevrolet dealer. It has since been demolished.

A comment on the Facebook post says that the owners of the Rex also had a house called the Princess-Rex, across Pike Street from the (second) Princess (which opened in 1940.) The Princess-Rex is one of the theaters listed at CinemaTour, with an address of 323 Pike. I have an idea about it that I’ll (eventually) also post on the Princess page. I suspect that the Rex, still listed in the FDY in 1947 even though burned out of the old Opera House in 1940, ended up in the former Princess building at 323 Pike when the Princess moved into its new location at 314 Pike. The original Princess dated back to at least as early as 1921. Princess-Rex probably served simply as a transitional name.

Judging from the old photo and the configuration of Shinnston’s streets, I’d say that the Opera House/first Rex Theatre was almost certainly at 72 or 74 Walnut Street. The 470 seat capacity we have listed is that of the second Rex/first Princess/Princess-Rex at 323 Pike Street. The first Rex might have been a bit bigger, but I haven’t been able to track down a capacity for it.

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