Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Loew's Ohio Theatre

Today is the 96th anniversary of the opening of the Ohio Theatre.
Front of the Ohio Theatre, 1921, from Club Life, September 1982.
 From The Plain Dealer, February 13, 1921.
Ohio lobby after the 1943 renovation.
From The Plain Dealer, November 27, 1921.
The Ohio auditorium, 1975, photo by William Gesten/Foto Arts Inc.

Of the four theatres, the Ohio was in the worst shape. Like the neighboring State, it had been stripped of fixtures and most of the seats. The Ohio had several significant roof leaks, the largest was a giant hole where the roof above the house left organ loft had caved in. The other in the back corner of the auditorium, house left side. There were several other ones as well, but those were the two biggest ones. The first summer I worked there, 1972, Ralph Smith ("Smitty"), and I spent several weeks boxing in the hole and trying to patch up leaks in both Loew houses. While we could never totally stop the leakage on the 17-18 year old roofs, we were able to slow them down considerably.

 One of the first things we did in the Ohio during January-February, 1973, was the conversion of the mezzanine offices into an apartment for Smitty, which probably took two to three weeks. We also removed the picture screen, which was bolted to the stage floor, and had a giant hole cut in it on the house right side. By early March our efforts shifted to the State, then to the production of Brel in the lobby of the State. For the rest of the 1970's the Ohio sat vacant, used mostly for storage, we would battle roof leaks in here constantly. The Ohio was never heated during this time, because of the huge expense, the roof drains would freeze, causing flooding issues during the spring thaw. To combat this we would take turns going up onto the roof with a sump pump, draining the water off into the alley below. The pump had to be constantly monitored, lest it get clogged with ice chunks. During those brutal winters of the late 70's we would all be up there, Todd Reeves, Jed Ellis, Paul Clement, Bob Tilly and myself, all taking turns, standing in ankle deep ice water, watching the pump.

All that seems like ages ago...

Much more on Loew's Ohio can be found here.

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