The story of a forgotten America.

Cottrill Opera House

The Cottrill Opera House in Thomas, West Virginia opened in 1902 and closed in the 1970s. It is being restored today after years of neglect.

The Cottrill Opera House in Thomas, West Virginia, designed in 1902 by Holmboe and Lafferty. In 1940, the top of the facade damaged and stuccoed afterwards.

Hiram Cottrill, a proprietor, came to Thomas in 1887 and was a mine superintendent at the Davis Coal & Coke Company before launching a career as an impresario. The theater closed in the 1970s and is being restored after years of neglect.


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Given the often obscene amount of money it usually takes to refurbish buildings of this type and size I wonder how much this project cost and where the funds came from. While I’m all for historical preservation up to a point with a state that has one the highest rates of cancer and cardiac issues is this the way to go? This reminds me of the Masonic Temple debacle here in Binghamton NY that has been dragging on for decades. At least that building if razed would open up two adjacent lots that would be right off downtown and could be used for a number of reasons. This WV location seems to be pretty much landlocked. Just saying.

Is this the same structure on Front Street, Thomas, that became the Sutton Theater. It was at this theater that I saw my first motion picture in the early 40’s. I was born in Thomas May of 1940 then moved to a house on 26 Hill overlooking fantastic views of Western Maryland RR action. Also from there, my brothers and I could watch my Dad walk the rails from Douglas that eventually got him back to our hours on the hill. I currently live in northern Michigan and am searching for old photos of WM rail operation.

Jack Staron, Elk Rapids, MI

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