Bluefield bids farewell to Coal City Auditorium - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Bluefield bids farewell to Coal City Auditorium

(WVVA) -

BLUEFIELD, WEST VIRGINIA - If you've been to downtown Bluefield the past couple of days, you might have noticed demolition work going on along a nearly-forgotten section of Bland Street. 

Suddenly, there's a hole in the string of mostly closed storefronts where the Coal City Auditorium used to be.

The white wooden letters affixed to the stone facade were a familiar sight for longtime residents but said little about the building's colorful history.

WVVA did a little digging and discovered that the venue catered to Bluefield's African-American community in the 60's and 70's. 

Sam Bundy, who was a well-known African-American businessman in Bluefield, built the place sometime in the mid-20th century and, as the legend goes, also operated a notorious gambling parlor a few doors down. 

While the parlor did great business, Bundy realized there was no place for people like him to go for legitimate entertainment. 

So he built the Coal City Auditorium by himself and with his own money.

He designed it so it could accommodate a couple of hundred people.

As far as anyone can tell, the auditorium has been shuttered for a long time.

A couple of months ago, a driver ran into the front of the building, damaging it beyond repair.

So, according to Bluefield's code enforcement supervisor, Lori Mills, the building had to come down for safety reasons.

Derelict buildings, she says, tend to attract people doing illegal things, and also pose a threat to firefighters when there's a fire.

Demolition work should be completed by the end of business on Wednesday.

The cost to the city will be between $10,000 and $14,000.

But Mills says Bluefield will bill the property's owner.

And then all that will be left of the Coal City Auditorium, and its storied past, will be a concrete slab.


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