WOODSFIELD, Ohio (WTRF) — A theater that opened the same year as “Gone with the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz” is getting a new lease on life in 2022.

The Monroe Theatre captures decades of music and movie history inside its brick and wooden walls.

It was known as the Cowboy Theatre.

Woodsfield’s main street cinema showed the famous westerns, with themes of American freedom and independence center stage.

But the big names in country music that played there also earned it that nickname.

When they were done at WWVA in Wheeling, Monroe County was often their next stop.

Roy Acuff, and Flatt and Scruggs, and Bill Monroe, and Patsy Cline, all those people were on this stage at one time. Not when they were famous, but as they were climbing up.

Mick Schumacher, President, Monroe Arts Council

The Monroe Theatre was opened by the Fleahman family, who also owned theaters in Bellaire and Caldwell.

It operated from 1939 to 1977, closing at a time of evolving technology.

Everything was changing, videos were coming out, the Fleahmans were getting older, you could go to the mall cinemas, it’s the story with every little-town theater.

Mick Schumacher, President, Monroe Arts Council

But since then, the marquee never came down.

After its donation to the Monroe Arts Council in 2016, it underwent three years of volunteer renovations.

They reopened for one show just to see if there was still interest in the old cowboy stage.

And it was packed. Everybody loved it, and we didn’t have operating bathrooms, we didn’t have furnaces.

Mick Schumacher, President, Monroe Arts Council

Even with the COVID shutdowns, the wartime cinema is mounting a comeback.

Singers are back on the stage through their regular jamborees.

They show movies to students and seniors as well, and the grants just keep coming in.

They have plans to build a balcony to double its capacity and are currently working on the masonry on the side of the building.

The support has been snowballing ever since they revealed the history and the potential of the 83-year-old auditorium.

In the last year and a half, we’ve secured about a million dollars in grant funds alone. Which we never would have been able to even think about if we hadn’t been open and people see what we’re trying to do here.

Mick Schumacher, President, Monroe Arts Council

Now with up-and-coming country stars making a stop here again, it’s been restored to what it was all those years ago.

A small-town secret giving a leg up to future stars long before the rest of the country knows their name.

We find them in the very beginning of their career and certainly hope that they go someplace when they get to the top.

Mick Schumacher, President, Monroe Arts Council

And the legacy continues next month—when Waylon Jennings’ grandson and Hank Williams’ great-grandson will both carry on country music royalty.