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By James E. Casto



Who among us hasn’t looked at an old house or building and wondered who built it and why? If only their walls could talk, what stories they might tell.

In this first installment of a new series, Huntington Quarterly presents “The 20 Most Intriguing Architectural Structures in Huntington.” We’re presenting 10 in the following pages and will offer another 10 in our next issue. After some thought, we’re deliberately using the word “structures” because, as readers will soon see, not all those on our list are buildings or houses. We don’t claim these are the most historic structures in Huntington, nor necessarily the most significant. We simply say we find them intriguing – and think many readers will share that feeling.
In compiling our first 10 choices, we turned to two well-known Huntington architects – Edward W. Tucker and Robert J. Summerfeldt – for assistance.

Ed Tucker is a Huntington native who earned his architectural degree at the University of Tennessee and first worked in Nashville. In 1995, he returned to Huntington to join the long-established firm of Dean & Dean and the next year purchased and renamed it. Veteran local architect E. Keith Dean remains a consultant to the firm. A few of the recent projects completed by Edward Tucker Architects Inc. include the new Clinical Center at the Marshall University School of Medicine, expansion and renovation of the Emergency Room at Cabell Huntington Hospital, a new office building for Darco International and Cabell County Emergency Medical Station #2.

A Washington, D. C., native, Bob Summerfeldt earned his degree at Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and came to Huntington in 1975. While working for a Pittsburgh firm he was part of the design team for the glass-walled First Huntington National Bank building (now J.P. Morgan Chase) in the 1000 block of 5th Avenue. Just across the street he worked with Dean & Dean on the Huntington Federal Savings & Loan project, where a new building literally was built around the original structure. And, practicing on his own, he designed the Lewis Memorial Baptist Church at 5385 W. Pea Ridge Road.
We will enlist other local architects to help us pick the second 10 buildings for inclusion.

The Keith-Albee Theater

Designed by master theater designer Thomas W. Lamb, the Keith-Albee opened to rave reviews in 1928 and has been delighting appreciative audiences ever since. The exterior is handsome but gives no hint of the lavish interior that effectively combines a number of ornate decorative styles. The Hyman family that built the Keith started out intending to spend $350,000 but ended up lavishing $2 million on the grand movie palace. In 2006, the family, unable to keep the Keith open in the face of increased competition from newer movie theaters, turned the treasured building over to the Marshall Foundation. Today, the newly formed Keith-Albee Foundation is operating the theater as a performing arts center and is gradually restoring its lost luster.   


The First United Methodist Church

Summerfeldt notes that Huntington is truly blessed by several turn-of-the-century church buildings clustered in the downtown. Pressed to single out one, he cites the First United Methodist Church in the 1100 block of 5th Avenue, praising its feeling of “solidity and permanence.” The impressive Gothic Revival church is topped by not one, but two ornate towers. Built in 1912-1914, it was designed by noted architect J. Charles Foster of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Ironically, while Foster was designing First Methodist his firm was also working on the First Presbyterian Church, just a block away.



The Prichard House

Businessman Frederick C. Prichard gave Huntington the Robson-Prichard Building (later known as the Chafin Building), the Prichard Hotel and, in 1923, a house aptly described by current owner Ann Ratcliff as “an Englishman’s idea of what an Italian villa would look like.” Situating his house on a full-acre site at 12th Avenue and 5th Street, Prichard shunned the red brick typically used for South Side homes and instead chose granite to fashion an unusual looking home topped with a Spanish tile roof and a tower that offers a wonderful view of the neighborhood. And surely it’s the only South Side house that included a granite coop for the family chickens.



The East Huntington Bridge

For decades the location of the proposed East Huntington Bridge was the subject of stormy controversy, with a long list of possible sites proposed, debated and ultimately rejected. Ironically, when the bridge was finally built at 31st Street and opened to traffic in 1985, it proved to be a thing of beauty. Indeed, its dramatic design soon made it a Huntington landmark. The 2,841-foot bridge is a cable-stayed, concrete span with a single pylon that rises 370 feet in the air over the Ohio River. The silhouette of the single tower with its suspension cables outlined against the sky is truly striking.



To read the rest of "The 20 Most Intriguing Architectural Structures in Huntington,"
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