Statewide Media Coverage of The Virginia:
Fox 56: On 100th anniversary, Somerset’s Virginia Theatre reopens ad modern event space
WYMT: City of Somerset prepares to open historic downtown theater
Commonwealth Journal: The Story of the Virginia is still being written, Red carpet gala marks return of Virginia
Public open house will showcase renovation and reintroduce historic building as a live performance venue
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (June 2, 2022) — The City of Somerset will make history on Saturday, June 11, when officials unveil the newly renovated Virginia Theater to the public.
A free community open house will be from 6 to 8 p.m. June 11 at the venue, located at 214 East Mt. Vernon Street in downtown Somerset. The event marks the first time this facility has been open to the public in a quarter of a century — built in 1922, The Virginia has been vacant since 1994, when an ice storm caused the building’s roof to collapse.
“We are beyond excited to open this beautiful space and share our vision for The Virginia as a live performance venue with residents and visitors,” Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said. “This building has such a rich and significant place in our community’s history. Our team has worked tirelessly to keep the dream alive of bringing The Virginia back to life. We are grateful for the incredible efforts of so many before us, and we are thrilled we could carry those efforts across the finish line to reopen this building. I am proud of the work that’s been done here and eager to celebrate it with the community.”
Those efforts — which include Downtown Somerset Development Corporation’s initial purchase of the building after it closed in 1994, fundraising initiatives, roof repair, and clearing the building of debris — will be recognized during the event.
People walking through the venue June 11 will be able to experience the building’s renovation while reminiscing about its past as a movie cinema. Somerset firm DECO Architects led project design, and Kentucky contractor D.W. Wilburn completed the renovation, which has been more than a year in the making. Somerset City Council took ownership of the building in September 2020 and voted in April 2021 to renovate the space, with a commitment to open The Virginia for the building’s 100th anniversary in 2022.
Keck said every effort has been made to preserve the integrity of the building while also converting it into a modern, adaptable venue for live music, theater and private events. Doing so was essential to having a strong economic impact, he said — being able to generate revenue through events is key to its operational efficacy.
“This multi-faceted approach makes The Virginia a place for everyone, which is really important to me, but it also ensures the city is not subsidizing this venue into perpetuity,” Keck said. “We have a strong business plan in place to bring live performances downtown, which will fuel our tourism economy and continue our efforts to light up downtown Somerset with arts and entertainment.”
Live music performances at The Virginia begin in July. For more information about The Virginia or to buy tickets, visit https://thevirginiaky.com or follow on Facebook or Instagram @thevirginiaky.