Valley Health Pays Tribute to Mountaineer Opry House
May 16, 2018
Milton, W.Va. – After nearly 46 years and more than a thousand shows, the Mountaineer Opry House is soon preparing to close the curtains for the last time. Only a few performances remain for the venerable music house, and then it will become local lore as the building will make way for a new community health center.
After being on the market for years, Valley Health Systems, Inc., recently committed to purchase the property on which the Opry House sits to enable the construction of a modern health center and offer an expanded level of services to the Milton community.
Valley Health’s new health center, when completed, will replace its existing facility on One Habour Way in Milton which has outgrown its boundaries due to demand for medical services. The new center will be approximately 15,000 square feet and will provide the community access to family medicine, internal medicine, pediatric, behavioral health and walk-in/drive-through pharmacy services under one roof.
“Valley Health has always had a strong commitment to the community,” said Associate CFO and Pharmacy Operations Director, Mary-Beth Brubeck. “We understand the sentimental attachment of this property to the community, and we are very respectful of it. As we move forward in providing meaningful medical services to members of the community, it is our intention to commemorate the Opry House as we move through the construction process so that the history of this property is preserved in equally meaningful ways.”
As a first step toward that commemoration, Valley Health is hosting a Commitment to Community & Heritage event at Mountaineer Opry House this Saturday, May 19, to mark one of the final performances at the venue. As a treat to the community, Valley Health is sponsoring the performance and will be offering free admission to all concertgoers as well as an opportunity to win prizes. Admittance will be on a first-come, first-seated basis, with doors to the theater opening at 5 p.m. The building can seat up to 500 people.
Prior to the Williamson Branch Performance, Valley Health is also sponsoring a Front Porch Pickin’ where all lovers of bluegrass are invited to bring their instruments and/or lawn chairs and enjoy impromptu jamming sessions beginning at 4 p.m. under a tent outside the Mountaineer Opry House.
Pre-concert activities on May 19 will also include clogging workshops by Williamson Branch at 4:15 p.m. and at 5:15 p.m. Community members are welcome to participate and learn the techniques of this traditional dance that is unique to Appalachian heritage.
Valley Health’s Chief Quality Officer and Family Medicine Physician, Mathew Weimer, M.D., offered his perspective, saying, “I’ve been seeing patients at Valley Health in Milton for the past seven years, and I have come to know just how important the Opry House is to this community. As a Huntington resident, I also understand the impact that this venue has had on the entire region over the past 40 years. We at Valley Health are excited to partner with the Opry House in honoring their legacy as the final season winds down.”
The Mountaineer Opry House has been a local hot spot for country, gospel and bluegrass music in the Huntington/Charleston area for over four decades. Located at the Milton exit of I-64, the facility has offered quality musical shows and concessions in a family-friendly atmosphere with no smoking or alcohol.
The Mountaineer Opry House was founded in 1972 by Paul King, which he modeled off the famous Grande Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. King and his wife and family managed the venue until 1991, when Mrs. King died and he lost interest in overseeing operations. A local couple who were fans of the Opry House, Larry and Mary Stephens, began managing the venue in 1991, following Larry’s retirement from many years in law enforcement.
“The Opry House has been a gathering place for bluegrass enthusiasts for many years,” stated Larry Stephens. “This place and the people who we’ve come in contact with have offered a lot of enjoyment to my wife and I through the years. Music has always been our thing. With that said, the Opry House could not have been sustained due to deterioration of the building. I am happy that an organization like Valley Health is taking it over. There couldn’t have been any nicer group of people to work with, and I know that they will be offering services that are needed to the community.”
Some of the most notable performers at the Mountaineer Opry House have been The Grascals, Ralph Stanley, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Although they weren’t able to book Alison Krauss, the Opry House has hosted most of the members of her band, Union Station.
Many local musicians got their start performing on the stage in Milton. The Opry House has also sponsored bluegrass competitions where local musicians competed for prizes and recognition.
The Milton Opry House will finish its planned final performance season, which includes Williamson Branch on May 19, Hammertowne on May 26 and a grand reunion of bands and artists on June 2.