Raleigh County Culture
Exploring Raleigh County Culture
Prepare for a night of fine cuisine and live theater. TAMARACK, The Best of West Virginia, presents dinner theater during the winter season in the Governor Hulett C. Smith Theater. Also offered in the Theater is Sunday@Two series sponsored by Tamarack. Guests will always find a performance in the theater every Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
As the focal points of Beckley’s lovely New River Park, the Exhibition Coal Mine, the Rahall Company Store, Mine Museum and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia draw thousands of people to the area annually. The unique underground mine, the recreated coal camp, the Youth Museum and the Mountain Homestead are surrounded by inviting lawns, colorful flowers, picnic areas, an imposing coal miner statue and a whimsical 20” Peace Totem.
At the Exhibition Coal Mine, one can ride through the dark passages of a vintage coal mine. The guides are veteran miners and provide firsthand accounts of the daily responsibilities and tasks of past and present day miners.
In addition to the Mine, one can tour the Mine Museum and the period coal camp situated throughout the grounds. Lovingly restored, the Coal Company House, Superintendent’s Home, Pemberton Coal Camp Church, and the Helen Coal Camp School, give visitors a true representation of early 20th century coal camp life.
Adjacent to the Exhibition Mine, the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia is open to the public year round. The central exhibit area features an average of three different interactive exhibits yearly. Group tours include a visit to the Museum’s Planetarium.
Behind the Museum’s main building stands the Mountain Homestead. Developed to enrich history studies, guides tell the stirring story of West Virginian’s hearty pioneer settlers as they interpret the restored log cabin, one room schoolhouse, barn, weaver’s shed, general store, moonshine still and blacksmith shop.
Wildwood House, the white clapboard home of Beckley’s founder, Alfred Beckley, stands along a historic main route through the City. General Beckley occupied a cabin at the site upon his arrival in the wilderness in 1835. Guided tours of the modest plantation and nearby family cemetery can be arranged.
Galleries and small performance spaces are found throughout the county at libraries, schools, and in other public buildings. Beckley Newspapers runs a continuous exhibit of local art.
The David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery, located at TAMARACK, The Best of West Virginia, is dedicated to showcasing artists from around West Virginia.
The Beckley Art Center has been in existence since 1933 and was incorporated on February 15, 2006. The construction of a permanent art gallery began in September 2007. in June 2009, the new Cynthia Bickey Gallery opened at the Beckley Art Center, located at 600 Johnstown Road in Beckley. The gallery mission is to provide space for art and craft persons to display and sell their work. On-going workshops in various art mediums: Oil painting, watercolor, youth art classes, demonstration of crafts, photography, and juried shows once each year. The Beckley Art Group’s goal is to continue offering perpetually changing exhibits, offer classes that will reach a varied population, and to generate enough income to become solvent. Members of the Beckley Art Center want to encourage the next generation of artists to continue the legacy of the Beckley Art Group, i.e., to provide quality shows and to become involved on all levels of keeping the gallery open to the public. For information call 304-253-9226 or visit www.beckleyartcenter.org
The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre is a multi-function facility that hosts play productions, musical acts, and shows classic and art house films. Its intimate quality makes it a wonderful place to see a show of any kind, as none of its 199 seats are more than 61 feet from the stage. The Raleigh also boasts Sir Walter’s Tavern, a comfortable ultra lounge that resides in the basement of the theatre. For information call 304-763-7059 or visit www.theraleighwv.com
There are three libraries serving Raleigh County:
Raleigh County Public Library
221 N. Kanawha St. Beckley, WV 25801
(304) 255-0511 / Fax: (304) 255-9161
Shady Spring Branch Library
440 Flat Top Rd. Shady Spring, WV 25918
(304) 763-2681 / Fax: (304) 763-3940
Sophia Branch Library
103 First St. Sophia, WV 25921
(304) 683-5990 / Fax: (304) 683-3124
Raleigh County Libraries Online
The “Bookmobile” also makes numerous stops throughout the County