By Sharell Harmon, Preserve WV AmeriCorps
What started as a conversation, quickly turned into my first project as a Preserve WV AmeriCorps member…
My name is Sharell Harmon, and I am a Preserve WV AmeriCorps member serving with the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV). My term with Preserve WV started August 28, 2017. This is my third contract with AmeriCorps, but my first contract serving in Historic Preservation.
I was extremely excited to take on my first historic preservation project at the Manos Theatre in Grafton, Taylor County. The purpose of this project was to create an inventory report regarding the condition of the theater's seats for the International Mother’s Day Shrine (current non-profit owners of the Manos). The Shrine requested an inventory report of the seats in the Manos Theatre with hopes to bid seats to donors for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation of the theater seats will bring the Shrine one step closer to re-opening this special place.
About the Manos Theatre
This theater has over the years operated under three different names. Originally known as, the Hippodrome, the theater was built by Messrs. Necessary, Cady and Hiehle and opened on August 12, 1912. The first show featured the Vaudeville acts the Great Henri French, dancer and impersonator; blackface performer Goff Phillips; the singing and dancing Church Sisters, as well as two photoplays. John Lester Bush, owner of the Dixie Theater also in Grafton, purchased the building and upon returning from World War I reopened it as The Strand.
The final incarnation, the Manos Theater opened June 27, 1949 with a grand inauguration beginning with a parade from the Post Office. The first show featured a cartoon, sports review, musical and the full-length film The Life of Riley. It was named for Michael Manos, President of the Elkins Theaters Co. which managed the theater. The Manos closed in 1995 after 46 years in business. Following a very brief reopening, the Manos closed for good in 1998.
The Preservation Work Day
On November 20, 2017— 14 AmeriCorps members from sponsor organizations like PAWV and Appalachian Forest Heritage Area partnered together with a local volunteer to participate in a preservation work day at the Manos Theatre Members and volunteers cleaned all theater seats, took inventory on each of the seats condition, and photographed every seat in the theater (which were utilized for the inventory report I created for the Shrine). All of the participants enjoyed a tour of both historic properties—the Shrine and the Manos Theatre. The project was a great success!
Thank you, to all volunteers that were involved with this Civic Service Project, the International Mother’s Day Shrine and Dottie at Biggies Restaurant in Grafton for providing lunch to the service members and the volunteer.
If you are interested in volunteering for a Preserve WV AmeriCorps project, contact Sharell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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