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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Thomas in Tucker County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Out On The Town

Thomas, West Virginia

 
 
Out On The Town Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
1. Out On The Town Marker
Inscription.  
Social Life and Entertainment
Thomas residents enjoyed a variety of entertainment and social activities.

The town had many musicians, including Patsy Sangangelo, a gifted trumpet player and owner of a shoe repair shop (Tour No. 40). Patsy taught music lessons to many young people and his son Ralph became a professional musician in Los Angeles. The Thomas town band and a number of jazz ensembles played the local Imperial Hotel, dances and other venues.

The Roma Restaurant (No. 39), with its upstairs dance hall, and the Varsity (No. 2), which had the first jukebox in town, were favorite hangouts for people of all ages. Historic photos of these spots evoke images of the classic soda fountain, authentic diner food, friendly conversation and neatly-dressed waitresses.

Thomas also offered alternative opportunities for letting loose, described in some historical accounts as "boozing, carousing and rowdyism." In 1912 alone, eight saloon licenses in the town were approved by the County Court.

Several generations of the Thayer family operated a saloon in their building (No. 37) almost from
The Opera House image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
2. The Opera House
The marker is on the far right end of the building.
the day Phoebe Thayer purchased the lot from the Davis Coal and Coke Company in 1983. This was in spite of the fact that the deed specifically prohibited the sale of alcohol on the property. The Sportsman's Club, run for many years by Phoebe's grandson Stuart Thayer, was famous for its taxidermy collection, particularly a semi-hidden mounted-rattlesnake that would startle the unsuspecting newcomer.

Contrill's Opera House and The Sutton Theater
Hiram B. Cottrill, born in Harrison County in 1865, came to Thomas in 1887 to work for the Davis Coal and Coke Company. He left the coal business to start a saloon, but many of his buildings were destroyed in the 1901 fire. His Opera House (Tour No. 1) became a center of entertainment and culture not only for Thomas, but for many neighboring towns. Despite its name, the Opera House featured primarily vaudeville shows and movies and had an "elegant saloon" on its first floor.

The Sutton family bought the theater in 1917 and operated it into the 1970s.
 
Erected by The City of Thomas, West Virginia.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainmentIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia, The City of Thomas series list.
 
Location.
National Register of Historic Places plaque on the opera house image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, July 17, 2020
3. National Register of Historic Places plaque on the opera house
39° 9.027′ N, 79° 29.872′ W. Marker is in Thomas, West Virginia, in Tucker County. Marker is on Appalachian Highway (West Virginia Route 32), in the median. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 264 Appalachian Highway, Thomas WV 26292, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Melting Pot of Thomas (within shouting distance of this marker); Connecting Thomas to the World (within shouting distance of this marker); A Lesson in Resourcefulness (within shouting distance of this marker); Dwellings and Design (within shouting distance of this marker); A "Howling Wilderness" (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); A Window to the Past (about 400 feet away); Thomas, West Virginia Mine Disaster Memorial (about 400 feet away); The Blackwater (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Thomas.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 18, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 29 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 18, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Jan. 25, 2021