Road Trips: Historic Ohio Theaters
These storied performance spaces have been restored over the years in order to ready them for new generations of audiences.
Southern Theatre, Columbus: This venue opened in 1896 with electric lights rather than gas. Another modern choice was the concentric arches that naturally amplified voices from the stage. The theater closed in 1976 but reopened in 1998 following a $10 million renovation. It is now home to the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Opera Columbus, Chamber Music Columbus and the Jazz Arts Group. 21 E. Main St., Columbus 43215, 614/469-0939, capa.com
Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati: This Victorian Gothic-style music hall was built in 1878, and an extensive $143 million renovation completed in 2017 revived the elegant concert space. Today, the landmark venue is home to resident companies such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera and May Festival Chorus. 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati 45202, 513/621-2787, cincinnatiarts.org
The Woodward Opera House, Mount Vernon: Built in 1851, this opera house hosted a range of performances and lectures during its heyday, including a talk by President William McKinley. But by the 1920s, the venue was well past its peak and ultimately shuttered. In 1994, locals launched an effort to restore the opera house — a $22.5 million project that was completed in 2016. 107 S. Main St., Mount Vernon 43050, 740/263-6737, thewoodward.org
Peoples Bank Theatre, Marietta: Opened in 1919, this theater was a showplace of its time, with a stage big enough for Broadway plays and outstanding acoustics. In 1989, a local businessman purchased the aging theater to save it. Following a 15-year fundraising effort, the venue’s $7.5 million revitalization was completed in 2016. 224 Putnam St., Marietta 45750, 740/371-5152, peoplesbanktheatre.com
Valentine Theatre, Toledo: This theater opened on Christmas night 1895 with a play based on Rip Van Winkle. Over the years, it went through changes and ultimately became a movie house. The theater nearly met the wrecking ball in the 1970s, but a 20-year, $28 million effort saved it. It reopened in 1999 and now hosts performances by touring acts and local resident companies alike. 410 Adams St., Toledo 43604, 419/242-2787, valentinetheatre.com
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