Oak Hill (WV) Old King Theater

From: History of Oak Hill Fayette County West Virginia From Its Earliest Times: Alonzo King built King Theater on Central Avenue and gave the showhouse his name in 1922.

I have been unable to find ANY information on Alonzo in genealogy databases, cemetery rosters or google searches. If any reader has information in addition to just what his name is, I would love to discuss the details with them so I can update this blog and my research. As a note, I have found Alonzo King references in WV but the birth dates do not coincide with someone building a showhouse in 1922. This is a research topic I will expand upon with a visit to the Oak Hill Library in upcoming months.

I have an affection for the Old King Theater that began in the days of my childhood. I can vividly remember watching Jaws there, terrified. My Ma would take me to horror movies as a LITTLE kid. Of course my eyes were covered for the age inappropriate scenes (watching the dirtier movie scenes through splayed fingers is a memory as well). When I was in high school, the owners were related to a friend of mine, Jennifer. There were a couple of times that we handed out popcorn to “pay” our way in.

For the purposes of this blog, I am trying to find any and all articles and/or photos of the Old King Theater in Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia.

If you have any photos from the mid to late 1980s, I would love to see them. In particular, I would LOVE to see interior photos. For now, this is what I have found by scouring Facebook pages and old newspaper archives.

One site references the building being demolished in 2008, another 2009. I was unable to find any news coverage for the event but hope to dive into microfiche of the more recent newspaper publications to see if I can find something not noted in the archives I have access to.

When I blogged about the theater a few years ago, a gentleman sent me photos of the demolition of the theater. I cannot find his name (even on the old blog – shame on me) so I cannot reference him for a photo credit. If these photos are yours, please let me know so I can credit you accordingly.

There are some clippings I have reserved for another blog regarding Adult Films in the Fayette and Raleigh Counties around the late 1960s through early 1970s and the Supreme Court’s ruling on obscenity laws which curbed their showings after local laws were passed by city governments. The King Theater was one of those theaters who showed adult films at that time. I wanted to keep this blog (and my childhood memories) family-friendly and therefore omitted them for the purposes of THIS blog. However…the movie title “Flesh Gordon” and it’s byline “not to be confused with…” Has given me great laughs this week.

As of the writing of this blog, if you use google Maps to “virtually drive” the street through “street view”, you can see the edge of the old building on the corner but once you pass it, I guess the maps have been updated from that corner on and there are no remnants of the old structure at all. So, I virtually backed up and went down the side street to behind the theater – that part of Google maps still has the old structure in the frame. I am utterly amazed at how “skinny” the building was. In my child-mind, it was this huge theater. Where that hole is on the image below is the space the theater used to occupy. At best, it is five(ish) car widths wide. My memories have it so much larger.

On the “You know you grew up in Oak Hill if…” Facebook page, Tommy Dale Hottle offered this gem:

That is the extent of photos I have on the theater. If there are others out there, PLEASE direct me to them. To conclude this blog, I dove into the newspaper archives for the Fayette area (limited up to 1977)….

News Articles Involving King Theater, Oak Hill, Fayette Co, WV:

 -
The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
11 Nov 1957, Mon  •  Page 2

Find a Grave Memorial for JW Thomas in above article can be found HERE.

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The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
15 Jan 1959, Thu  •  Page 12
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Beckley Post-Herald
Beckley, West Virginia
27 Sep 1962, Thu  •  Page 2

According to this article, King Theater was closed from 1963 until the Thomas couple reopened it Labor Day weekend 1969.

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Beckley Post-Herald
Beckley, West Virginia
28 Aug 1969, Thu  •  Page 28
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The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
27 Aug 1969, Wed  •  Page 3
 -
Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
25 Sep 1971, Sat  •  Page 24
 -
Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
26 Aug 1973, Sun  •  Page 30
 -
Beckley Post-Herald
Beckley, West Virginia
12 Apr 1974, Fri  •  Page 18
 -
Sunday Gazette-Mail
Charleston, West Virginia
09 May 1976, Sun  •  Page 94
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Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register
Beckley, West Virginia
19 Feb 1977, Sat  •  Page 24
 -
Beckley Post-Herald
Beckley, West Virginia
27 Jul 1977, Wed  •  Page 50
Criminal complaint filed against Oak Hill property owner
  • By Sarah Plummer REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER
  • May 12, 2015

On behalf of the Oak Hill City Council, City Manager Bill Hannabass filed a criminal complaint Tuesday in Oak Hill Municipal Court against 341 Jones Ave. property owner John M. Zink Jr.

In violation of city code, Zink has failed to comply with an order to repair the Jones Avenue windows after fire damage, although debris and junk vehicles have been removed since the initial notice more than a year ago.

In October 2014, the city’s Structural Inspection Board deemed the property “unsafe” and ordered it be vacated and repaired.

In November 2014, the city threatened to make repairs if the property owner was unwilling or unable to do so. Because the city has done demolition at other properties owned by Zink, resulting in liens, council has delayed taking further action.

The city has placed liens on Zink properties for the demolition of the King Theater, mowing grass and more. The city currently has a judgment filed against Zink in circuit court.

Zink has appeared several times before council asking for extensions for work to be done at the Jones Avenue residence due to health concerns and harsh weather.

Council asked Zink to show a contract for repairs to be made before Monday’s meeting, but Zink did not attend.

He will be fined $200 for not complying with the order and an additional $100 per day until repairs are made.

During January’s meeting, council agreed to accept $1,000 for a lien buyout on a Glen Jean property formerly owned by Zink. According to Hannabass, Zink sold the property without a title search, and the lien needed to be settled before the current owner could resell.

The city’s liens on other Zink properties total $37,000.

Property owned by Zink outside the City of Oak Hill has also been discussed at past Fayette County Commission meetings.

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