The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will unveil a new exhibit, The Greenbrier–America’s Resort: West Virginia’s Gift to the World, and present a performance of the Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s (GVT) production of Stories of Mountain Railroads, on Monday, Jan. 31, at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The exhibit will open at 6 p.m. with a reception in the Great Hall and viewing in the Balcony Gallery. There will be a short program in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater at 7 p.m., followed by the play at 7:30 p.m.
The exhibit consists of artifacts, photographic and video images, furniture and china which help cover the history of the resort through various time periods. Visitors can see items such as sofas, chairs and tables from the 1940s which graced the rooms of the Greenbrier after the famous interior designer Dorothy Draper performed a makeover for the resort. China, including a pitcher and basin from the late 19th century, is on display. There also is a model of the carriage that was used to transport guests at the hotel from the 1920s to the 1950s. In addition, there are some wooden golf clubs that were donated to the Greenbrier by Cameron Harris Caldwell of Huntington.
Photographic images include pictures of golfers including Ben Hogan, Sam Snead walking with President Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as pictures of celebrities like Bob Hope, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Other images include a photograph of the vault at the resort and pictures of when the hotel was used as a hospital during World War II.
Dr. Robert Conte, historian at the Greenbrier Resort, assisted the exhibits staff at the West Virginia State Museum in assembling the exhibit and writing text labels.
The Greenbrier Valley Theatre’s production of Stories of Mountain Railroads is a 45-minute play that captures a vital part of the regional history in Greenbrier County. Written by K.C. Davis and Cathey Sawyer, the play features tales of individuals to celebrate the railroads that played an indispensable role in the growth and culture of Appalachia and songs with traditional music of the region.
GVT received a Creativity Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to commission this new play. Railroads have inspired a richness of legend and music in the area, and authors Davis and Sawyer bring to life the stories of the men who risked their lives maneuvering the curves and inclines of rugged and uncivilized mountains on the “iron horses” that changed the region forever.
GVT is a live-performance theater which got its start with 1966 productions in a tent along the Greenbrier River and now has a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Lewisburg. From the beginning, GVT has adhered to the founders’ concept: quality live theater centered around a core of professional actors and directors with opportunities for members of the community to learn stagecraft. In 2006, GVT became West Virginia’s Official Year-Round Professional Theater.
For more information about The Greenbrier–America’s Resort: West Virginia’s Gift to the World, contact Charles Morris, director of museums and exhibits manager for the Division, at (304) 558-0220. For more information about Stories of Mountain Railroads and the GVT, contact Cathey Sawyer, writer and director, at (304) 645-3838.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.