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Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building

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1931–1932, S. H. Bridge. 100 S. Kanawha St. (between Howe and McCreery sts.)

Raleigh County's grandiose concept for a memorial to commemorate the sacrifices made by World War I servicemen and women envisioned a multipurpose, $250,000 structure with an auditorium seating 3,000. As plans developed and fund-raising, including a statewide levy, progressed, the project was scaled down. Construction began in 1931, and the building was dedicated on Memorial Day 1932.

The T-shaped structure has an impressive two-story, thirteen-bay facade that stretches 160 feet along a gentle curve of one of Beckley's major thoroughfares. Faced with Indiana limestone laid in coursed ashlar, the facade is centered with a shallow, tetrastyle Tuscan portico. The limestone facing continues along five bays of each side-street elevation, but the body of the 900-seat auditorium that stretches 160 feet to the rear (the leg of the T) is clad with yellow brick. If not quite as grand as originally planned, the building nevertheless takes a place of honor among coal country's similarly inspired “liberty buildings.” The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Theatre and Arts Center, established in 1993, now occupies the building. It serves as a cultural center for the community, just about what the original planners had in mind.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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