While the International Film Festival gets underway in Charleston, in another part of the state, a man is working to bring film back to his small town.
Russ Stover is trying to restore the Grand Theatre in downtown Philippi, to make it an attraction to cinema enthusiasts in the area. Stover says in that part of the state, it’s very difficult for film lovers to go see movies.
“I want to open instead of just another theater showing new movies, I want to open a revival theater. I can show what the people want to see, and that is something that isn’t done around here. If you want to see a documentary, you’ve got to go to Pittsburgh or Morgantown if you’re lucky, or you have to wait until it comes out on disc,” Stover said.
Stover would like to screen older movies at the theater, like films from Alfred Hitchcock and other iconic movie makers. But getting it open won’t be easy.
In other parts of the state, older theaters have been demolished, like the two downtown theaters that used to be in Fairmont.
Others are vacant and basically abandoned, like the Warner Theatre in Morgantown. But there is at least one example of what Stover is trying to accomplish, in Shepherdstown, where a restored historic theater shows movies and hosts concerts. Stover is certain a restored Grand Theater, like the one in Shepherdstown, will be successful.
“I’ve seen too many of these wonderful old places turn into parking lots. A place like Philippi that appreciates its history, it’s something you want to save. With the way the college is expanding, I’m surprised other businesses haven’t moved into Philippi,” said Stover.
Stover is trying to raise the money for the theater, and he’s far away from that goal. But he’s hoping he’ll be successful in bringing cinema back to Philippi.