MARTINSBURG – West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner presented a Chamber of Commerce Centurion Award to the historic Apollo Civic Theater in Martinsburg on Wednesday for its activity for more than 100 years.
“Once a business has been around for 100 years, we like to salute these businesses and draw attention to them because they are the ones who have created jobs, brought joy to people’s lives and provided services,” Warner said. “I remember the first theater I went to so far. For being in business for 100 years, you survived WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, and now you’ve survived COVID-19. Thank you for everything you have done for the community.
The Centurion Business Award is presented to recognize companies that have stood the test of time and have served as anchors in their communities.
Warner founded the WV Centurion Chamber of Commerce program in 2019, offering recognition and certification to companies that have been in business for 100 years or more in West Virginia.
Since then, the office has recognized more than 250 companies with the award, now including the Apollo Civic Theater, which was built in 1913 and opened in 1914.
“It’s really nice to be recognized. It’s quite an achievement, really, if you think about everything this theater has seen over the years. For me, the Apollo is the heart of the community and has been on my mind, forever, ”said Aubrey Ervin, Apollo Theater Program Director and Youth Program Director. “Not only do we provide a space for people to perform and provide programs for young people in the community, but we try to help whenever we can.
“I can’t count the times I’ve seen Michael take out our own sound equipment at an event to make sure the voices are heard or the times we’ve said, ‘Yeah, you can use our space. “” Ervin added. “I even remember a few trips home, at the very last minute in the rain, we had children in the theater to have a dry space to take pictures.”
Apollo Civic Theater board chairman Michael Noll said receiving the Warner award was an accomplishment he was proud of.
“It was awesome. In 1972, when Winifred Liker, Hannah Fortney, Edwina Odem and I met with then-owner Elwood Lane about using the Apollo as a home for our theater company, I thought to myself, “ Wow, what potential is this building, ”Noll said. “The history of the building dates back to WWI and WWII. It was not just a theater, but a building where the community gathered for weekly dances in the ballroom, a place where people gathered and talked before the age of television or social media. The third floor served as a meeting place and a staging area.
Noll added that the Apollo Civic Theater is an economic engine for the city of Martinsburg and Berkeley County. He said the theater is a community gathering place for productions, political debates, conferences, weddings, dances and a place where touring groups can perform.
“When shows are in the theater, people come to town to eat and enjoy a night out in Martinsburg. It provides a place where you can go to see a quality show locally. It offers an educational experience to young people through our three workshops that we organize each year and which end with the presentation of a play. We provide a place for school trips, which exposes young people to the arts, and it’s a place that has a lot of history for the community of Will Rogers, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard and many more, ”said Noll .
Ervin said the main goal of the theater is to help the community thrive and to continue to provide a space to do so.
“We want our community to thrive and we want to provide a space where people can continue to see the arts or express themselves in the arts. The theater takes care of people’s hearts and minds, and we are proud to have been able to keep it standing and thriving, ”said Ervin.
For more information, visit www.apollocivictheater.org/.