Virginia Tech University Libraries, Special Collections
in collaboration with
the Department of Housing, Interior Design, and Resource Management

The Lyric Theatre: A Look Back at the Beginnings

R. Floyd Plank

R. Floyd Plank was born in Clairborne, Tennessee in 1892. He came to Blacksburg before completing high school to work in the general store of Mr. Charles Woolwine and his son, J. Hoge Woolwine.

By 1916 Plank was in partnership with Mr. Woolwine. The business was called "Woolwine and Plank--Haas Tailoring and Men's Furnishings". In 1917, upon the death of Mr. Woolwine, Plank entered into partnership with Hampton Hoge, Woolwine's nephew, under the sign "Plank and Hoge Tailoring -- Men's Furnishings."

In World War I, Floyd Plank was drafted into the air command of the AEF, but the war ended before he had the chance to fly in combat overseas. On returning to Blacksburg he became a charter member of local chapter of the American Legion. He was also a member of Rotary Club, and the Masons.

In 1919, along with his friend, R. C. "Cam" Whitsett, Plank bought out Hoge's interest in the men's clothing store. The store had always carried drugs and had a soda fountain, and Plank and Whitsett converted it into a full-fledged drug store. The men's store was moved to a space farther down College Avenue.

Also in 1919, along with Mr. Vane E. Kelsey, he bought the Lyric Theatre. In 1922 they moved the theater across the street from its original location. In 1929 they formed the Commonwealth Theatre Corporation and, in 1931, built the present Lyric Theatre and the Salem Theatre. They continued to operate the old theater as the Little Theater until 1951.

Plank formed the Blacksburg Realty Corporation in 1928. He bought up property around the drug store, and was instrumental in developing the block of businesses around Main Street and College Avenue. He was responsible for closing over Strouble's Creek and completely renovating the old flour mill and ice house that the creek passed on the corner of College Avenue and Draper Road. New buildings were added until that part of the block was a solid line of stores at ground level, with apartments and offices above.

Plank was also responsible for local residential development, promoting the development of McBryde Village, one of the area's first subdivisions. He also served on town and county planning committees, and on the board of directors of the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-V. P. I. Water Authority.

In 1935 Floyd Plank was elected to the board of directors of the National Bank of Blacksburg. He became bank president in 1955 and continued in that office until 1966. He continued as board member until 1968.

Mr. Plank died in January of 1977.

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Last updated: July 18, 1997