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Coal Miner's Memorial Theatre Re-Opens

By: Jenna Emenhiser Email
By: Jenna Emenhiser Email

After more than 25 years of hard work and planning, the Coal Miner's Memorial Theater in Benham is back open, and many say it's back to it's original glory.
For years the corner of Main Street and Circle Park Road was the center of entertainment in town.
Home to the Benham Theatre... Now named the Coal Miner's Memorial Theatre.
"The building refused to fall and the people who worked on it refused to give up. So I think that has taught us patience," Said Mayor Betty Howard.

Now, former patrons are re-opening a part of history, and with that come many memories.
"My husband and I had our first date here in the theatre at Benham which brings a lot of memories back," said Thelma Helton-Lewis.
"Three times a week I was here. On Sunday and Monday they would have the mushy gushy stuff, you know. Those were the A-class. Then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday you'd get B-class I mean good pictures. And then Friday and Saturday cowboys!" Said Wanda Compton-Humphrey.
"How they gained free admittance, one would buy a ticket and come in and then come over here to the door and several would be outside waiting, said Barbara and Samual Isaac.

Before it was shut down the theatre was transformed into a youth center in the 1950's.
"Every Friday and Saturday night they had dances here and it was chaperoned and you could buy drinks... Friday and Saturday you could dance your heart out," said Belinda Riley.
"Basically you just met your girlfriend here, danced and walked her home," said Gary Brock.

From movie theatre to youth center and now back again... The Coal Miner's Memorial Theater has come full circle.


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