The Colonial Arts Center holds rich history for many Buckhannon locals who remember attending past events at the venue.
The building itself has been around since 1924. Garland West originally managed the building as the Colonial Theater, displaying films for all ages for over three decades (1930-1966). In the early 1970s, management transitioned to Gray Barker, a science fiction author who renamed the theatre Cinema V. Barker passed away in 1984, and the building was renovated into a bar shortly after.
The bar did not remain, and the building was closed. After nearly two decades, the City of Buckhannon knew that the loss of this historic building that it would be the loss of a key element to Buckhannon’s Downtown Historic District. In March of 2017, a town hall meeting was held to seek community input, and a decision was made for the building to be renovated into a space that would benefit the community.
A grant proposal was submitted to the WV Department of Arts, Culture, and History in March of 2017 for the first phase of renovations to begin. This grant cycle awarded the theatre project $102,000 for demolition and clean-up work, such as floor replacement, roof repair, and other necessary renovations. The project also received over $5,500 from local art organizations.
The theatre hosted some “performances” to raise awareness of the project and to interest community folks of Buckhannon. Key to Adam and Connor McCauley, local musicians, played music during tours of the theatre in 2017. Buckhannon Community Theatre presented a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show in October of 2017, ART26201 hosted a variety show and there was even a “Battle of the Bands” hosted by the City with Appalachian folk dancing.
The new Colonial Arts Center maintains this rich history and, through the City of Buckhannon’s management, continues to create more artistic experiences for the community. While the building may look different on the inside, students, artists, and audience members will all find something to love about this new space.