The Grand Theater, constructed in 1937 in the Art Deco architectural design, is located at 302 West Main Street in Ronceverte, West Virginia.The three-story building was designed by John Norman, Sr., the second registered black architect and seventh registered architect for the state.6

The Grand housed 158 seats in a single theater 4 and WRON, the town’s first radio station, on an upper floor.1 2 The exterior was elaborate, with a façade faced with white blazed brick 1 and 210 square-feet of black vitrolite, an opaque pigmented glass,4 with a neon marquee that was considered the largest in the state. The footprint of the building measured 50-feet by 45-feet and rose 35-feet in height.5

The interior comprised of composition blocks on the walls in a four-tone effect to give the appearance of antique weathered stone.5 The ceiling was finished in gold stippled plastic. In all, 1,000 pounds of decorative plaster and 10,000 pounds of common plaster was used.

The projection equipment used was from Super-Simpllex with Super-Cinephor lenses, displaying on a 10.7-foot by 14.7-foot screen and heard through the Western Electric Mirrorphonic Sound System.5 Each seat, manufactured by the Peabody Seating Company of North Manchester, Indiana, was equipped with the Western Electric “Theaterophone” seat phone system, the first in the state.

The theater was operated by J.C. (Jim) Shanklin.3 Shanklin operated the Ronceverte theater since 1900 and was also operating theaters in Charleston and Gauley Bridge. In 1936, he ran for the house of delegates from Greenbrier County on the Democratic ticket.

After Shaklin passed away, the Watts and then Darrell Williams owned the building.4 Williams had planned to donate the building to the city but died before it could be finalized.

Plans for the building include the purchase of the shell by the Ronceverte Development Corporation with the intent to restore the theater for public use and as a community college cinema arts classroom, with the upper floor housing a recording studio.2

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  1. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Ronceverte Historic District. Comp. David L. Taylor. Washington: National Park Service, Aug. 2004. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. Article.
  2. “Shanklin’s Grand Theatre.” Endangered List 2011. Preservation Alliance of West Virginia. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. Article.
  3. “J.C. (Jim) Shanklin.” Charleston Daily Mail 8 May 1936: 15. Print.
  4. Bair, Wyatt. “Shanklin’s Grand Theatre.” Traveling 219 The Seneca Trail. 21 June 2013. Web. 8 Apr. 2015. Article.
  5. “Shanklin’s New Grand Theatre.” West Virginia News n.d.: n.p. Print.
  6. United States. Dept. of the Interior. Elk City Historic District. Comp. Billy Joe Peyton. Washington: National Park Service, Dec. 2007. West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Web. 19 Mar. 2015. Article.
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