It’s not Looney Tunes: Merrie Melodies may play once again at our historic downtown movie house.
Not all that many years ago, we were still able to see a film at the 1931 Warner Theatre on High Street. Independent and arthouse releases, cult films, and classics still rolled there in the early 2000s. But in spite of that energetic line-up, the old theater couldn’t compete with the multiplexes at the edge of town, and it closed in 2010. We reported on its final years in heartbreaking detail in “That’s All Folks,” a feature story in the February / March 2015 issue of Morgantown magazine.
Love for the Warner runs strong in town and, a decade and a pandemic later, we may still see that stylish Art Deco interior again. Round Table Development, a subsidiary of theater owner Round Table Corporation referenced in our 2015 story, has a plan now for reconfiguring the landmark for 21st century audiences. “We’ll flatten the raised floor so it’s more of a flexible space—we’ll be able to do live music in a more modern, standing-room type of venue,” says Round Table co-owner Mark Downs. “We’ll also be able to do conventions or bring in tables and chairs for receptions, plus indoor markets, Ted Talks—we’ll just have a lot more flexibility to serve the community.” As for movies, the owners plan to return the theater to a grand single bay instead of three screens. Among other things, Downs looks forward to showing Warner Brothers’ 1931 comedy The Millionaire, the first film that ever showed in the theater.
Round Table is currently putting financing together, and the group hopes to be popping the popcorn again as soon as 2025.
The Morgantown Lowdown is revisiting historic structures Morgantown magazine covered in past issues as part of Main Street Morgantown’s celebration of National Historic Preservation Month. Our built environment embodies our community’s unique history—enjoy it!