Attracted to Thomas, West Virginia, in 1887 by the allure of the coal industry, Hiram Cottrill made a fortune in the saloon and land business. Then a boomtown of quickly built wooden structures, devastating fires swept through the community. In 1901 a conflagration razed nearly 100 downtown buildings, including Cottrill's saloon and his opera house. He commissioned architects Homboe & Lafferty, of Clarksburg, West Virginia, to design a fire-proof masonry opera house. The building opened in 1902, and quickly became one of the town's chief social centers. In 1915, the Sutton family purchased the theater and operated it as a movie theater until 1972. Alpine Heritage Preservation since has worked to restore its grandeur and reopen the Cottrill as a 425-seat facility for performance and education.