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Warner Theater approaches critical step in restoration process

Plans for the Warner Theater, one of the original theaters of Warner Brothers, will restore the historic building to a multi-purpose entertainment venue.

The project comes 100 years after Warner Brothers started their international media conglomerate.

Members of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History’s State Historic Preservation Office Meredith Dreistadt, Christy Moore and Susan Pierce, recently reviewed plans to restore the theater to a near-original state.

High Street Holdings LLC leads the Warner Theater’s restoration, along with partners March-Westin and 123 Pleasant St.

The project is receiving support and advocacy from the City of Morgantown, Monongalia County Commission, WVU and the State Department of Arts, Culture, and History.

Mark Downs, president of Main Street Morgantown, expressed his belief in the significant role the Warner Theater will fill.

“Once restored, the Warner would once again serve as a key asset in Downtown Morgantown and the Mid-Atlantic,” Downs said. “It could function as a multi-purpose venue hosting live performances, conferences, receptions, markets and yes, movies.”

West Virginia University’s Institute for Policy Research and Public Affairs estimates that annual operations would contribute over $11 million to the regional economy, with renovations contributing an additional $15 million.

The Warner Theater opened in 1931. In 2010, the theater closed after 79 years in business. Vacant for 12 years, its restoration is expected to become a cultural and economic engine that will generate jobs, the arts, educational opportunities and tourism for the area.

Main Street Morgantown is a nonprofit (501c3) organization. Its mission is to develop and promote vibrant and prosperous Downtown and Wharf districts.