After nearly a decade-long restoration process, The Granada Theater has reopened its doors to the public!
The Granada Theater, located on Commerce Street in Bluefield, has a spirited past dating back to its opening on January 2, 1928. The theater provided entertainment to countless area residents when only silent movies were being made, and was visited by well-known celebrities including Bing Crosby, Marian Anderson, Frank Sinatra and Greer Garson. Upon The Granada’s modernization by architect E.H. Geissler in 1949, a stage was constructed for live performances from vaudeville acts and big bands. The theater remained popular for the next 50 years, until its closure in 1977.
After years of neglect including major water damage to the ceiling and walls after copper thieves left a hatch open on the roof, revitalization efforts were essential to not lose an important part of Bluefield’s history and culture. In 2012, a group of Mercer County residents joined forces with board members of the Bluefield Arts and Revitalization Corporation (BARC) to begin the restoration process.
Over the last nine years, the group has managed to replace the roof and marquee, clean the theater’s exterior and replace and re-glaze the windows. Along the way, there has been no shortage of miracles for The Granada Theater.
“The organ that was originally at the theater is now back here,” Nicole Thompson, House Manager and Programming Director for the BARC, said.
The theater organ, a Wurlitzer Opus 1790, Style EX, left The Granada many years ago and was taken to the Evans Theatre in Indiana, then eventually transferred to Huntington and installed at the Keith Albee Theatre.
“Somehow through a series of their own miracles, the Keith Albee Theatre got their own original organ back so that left room for our organ to be brought back to The Granada,” Thompson said.
In 2015, the organ was returned to Bluefield and reassembled by a specialized group from an organ society. The organ is used for silent films and quite literally has got all of the bells and whistles — from the xylophone and bells to the drums and cymbals.
“We will be able to use it when we show silent films but we’ll need to find some people who know how to play it because it is a dying art,” Thompson said. “It’s not your run-of-the-mill church organ.”
More good news from the restoration process came when the group was able to replicate the original carpet in the theater.
“They had a black and white photo of the carpet from the original theater and were able to send it to a company in New York to determine what colors were in it,” Thompson said. “So the carpet now is a very close replica of the carpet that was in here originally.”
The reopening of The Granada will offer an affordable form of entertainment for the whole family. The Granada plans to regularly show movies. The current schedule will feature films on Thursday and Friday nights, all day on Saturdays and on Sunday afternoons. Additionally, the theater has long-term plans to bring concerts, theatrical productions, larger musical acts like the symphony, and touring ballet troupes to the area.
“It will be a big variety of things. Our goal is to have something on our schedule that will appeal to everyone at some point,” Thompson said. “We want people to be able to stay in Mercer County instead of traveling to larger cities for these kinds of events.”
Visit The Granada Theater’s website and Facebook page to learn more about movie showtimes and upcoming events.
This post was last updated on August 30, 2021