Along with the leading downtown department stores, the Huntington Arcade was the premier shopping destination in the Tri-State are from the 1920s until the creation of the Huntington Mall in Barboursville. The neoclassical facility was built in 1925 and housed local retailers on the first floor. The second floor was home to the offices of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Businesses in the Arcade and the rest of downtown Huntington struggled following the opening of the Huntington Mall in the 1980s. After years of high vacancy rates, the building was sold in 2009 and converted into living spaces. The Arcade was re-dubbed The Galleria and opened to tenants in 2014. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Downtown Huntington Historic District.
Shopping arcades were structures containing
commercial spaces and were characterized by their enclosed passageways, which
linked the businesses together. Arcades were prevalent for centuries in Europe
and were commonplace in the United States during the early twentieth century.
The Ritter family of Huntington constructed an arcade on Fourth Avenue in 1925.
The two-story structure featured elements of Italianate and Renaissance Revival
style architecture. It was particularly noteworthy for its ornate interior and
glass ceiling. The facility was known variously as the Huntington Arcade, the
Ritter Arcade, or the Bank Arcade, as it was located adjacent to First
Huntington National Bank.
The arcade was one of the most prominent commercial
centers in downtown Huntington for decades. The first floor contained retail
shops while the second floor housed offices for doctors and other
professionals. A bowling alley, Arcade Lanes, operated in the basement from the
1920s until 1976. The oldest and most well-known business was the Peanut
Shoppe. It originally opened in 1924 as a franchise of the Planters Peanut Co.
but later became independently operated. The small shop sold roasted peanuts
and a variety of other snacks; it was very popular with patrons visiting the
nearby Keith Albee Theater. After over eighty years in operation the Peanut
Shoppe closed in 2008, citing a drop in profits after the Keith Albee stopped
airing movies two years prior. Another long-lasting business in the Arcade is
George’s Tailoring, a tailor shop that has occupied space there since at least
1973 and remains in operation today.
Traffic to the Arcade plummeted after the
construction of the Huntington Mall in 1981. One by one, businesses closed
until the building became nearly vacant. In 2009 it was purchased by Universal
Holdings, LLC with the goal of transforming it into condominiums. The company spent
$2.5 million renovating the Arcade into 26 modern condos, along with tenant amenities
such as a conference room, fitness center, and lounge; interior ornamentation and
the original glass ceiling were restored and preserved as well. Two spaces were
also set aside for businesses, including one for George’s Tailoring. The
building, rebranded as the Huntington Galleria, opened to tenants in 2014. It
is one of many historic buildings in downtown Huntington that was saved through
adaptive reuse in the 2000s and 2010s. An August 2014 article in The State Journal claimed that it is the
last surviving arcade in West Virginia.