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Named for Thomas Beall Davis, brother of Henry Gassaway, this community once boasted “more than one thousand [coke] ovens … constantly emitting smoke and flame.” A disastrous fire in 1901 destroyed much of the mostly wood-frame commercial area, but it was quickly rebuilt in brick and stone. In 1909 Front Street became the county's first thoroughfare to be paved with brick. Coke production ceased in 1921, and Thomas has lost population ever since. Even so, as late as 1941, there were enough citizens for the WPA guide to West Virginia to comment on the “heterogeneous population, drawn from 18 countries—Poland, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Jugoslavia, Lithuania, among others.” Many turn-of-the-twentiethcentury commercial structures remain in the tightly packed downtown, among them Thomas's pride and joy, the Cottrill Opera House.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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