Downtown Huntington West Virginia was a booming regional center of commerce from its founding in 1870’s through the 1960’s. Huntington’s population began to drop after 1950 because of suburban spread and the decline of manufacturing industries. Throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s many of the ornate historical buildings were emptied and sat in disrepair. The federal urban renewal program cleared numbers of old structures to make way for new growth which was unrealized for decades.
Dr. Joseph B. Touma came to Huntington in 1971 and established a very successful ENT practice. The Toumas fell in love with the community and became involved with many worthy causes that enhanced and improved the area such as the Huntington Museum of Art, Marshall University, etc.
Dr. Touma’s father was an architect and so he grew up with an appreciation of architecture, construction, and development. From his first days in Huntington he began to admire the rich architectural heritage left by earlier generations who had built this great city during its heyday. He was pained to see beautiful historic structures abandoned and left in disrepair. He was also troubled by the pervasiveness of the mindset that downtown Huntington had seen its best days and would never recover. Dr. Touma, along with other local leaders and officials believed Huntington could recover and that the historic business district could once again become a thriving center of commerce.
In 1992, Dr. Touma took on the challenge of demonstrating that Huntington’s architectural gems could be restored and positioned for success in a new generation. He purchased the Gideon Building on the corner of 10th St and 3rd Ave and completely restored the exterior to its original grandeur. The inside was completely gutted and painstakingly rebuilt to suit the needs of modern retail and office space. Within a year, the Gideon building was fully occupied with excellent tenants. This began the process of restoring historic properties that contributed significantly to the revitalization efforts so apparent today in downtown Huntington. Presenty, Touma Real Estate Holdings now owns and manages six completely restored historical buildings as well as other projects in Huntington.
The Touma family continues to invest in the betterment of our community through their involvement in and support of many civic groups, professional and charitable organizations, as well as business endeavors.