A Look Back


By William “Skip” Deegans

Photo courtesy of Greenbrier Historical Society.
Sources: Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, personal recollections.

R.O. Raine and H.L. Grey opened the Pioneer Theatre, Rainelle’s first theatre, in 1923 or 1924. In addition to a 500-seat theatre, the Pioneer included a hotel, cafe, and barber shop. The theatre closed in 1929 but remained a hotel. John and Edith Goff, operators of Lee’s Tree Tavern, bought the building in 1951. Mrs. Goff reigned supreme over the dining room that was complete with white tablecloths and linen napkins. Long before the farm-to-table movement, she supplemented her fare with vegetables and fruit in the summer and canned preserves and vegetables in the winter from her Sewell Mountain garden. When the Meadow River Lumber Company shut down and Interstate 64 bypassed Rainelle, the Pioneer eventually came to an end. The building was razed in the 1980s.