The Ohio Theatre was created as a movie palace in 1928, a time when many elaborate movie theatres were built across the country. Unlike your average AMC, movie palaces were elaborately designed and luxuriously furnished. The Ohio Theatre was designed by Thomas W. Lamb, a famous theatre architect. Lamb created the Ohio Theatre so that patrons could feel separated from their daily lives. When you walk into the theatre, the Spanish Baroque style evokes a fantasy of luxury. The theatre enjoyed many years of visitors, especially with the popularity of “talking pictures.” It became the premier theatre to showcase the latest films from the largest studios. While World War II brought many people eager to take a break from the real world, attendance declined with the rise of television and population shift from the cities to the suburbs.
When plans for a new office tower threatened the theatre’s existence, the CAPA sparked a grassroots movement to preserve the historic building. Not only did CAPA secure enough funding to ensure the preservation of the theatre, but it also completely took over operations and transformed it into a performing arts center. Under the direction of CAPA, the Ohio Theatre was restored to its original appearance with few alterations. In the 1980s, the venue also expanded and updated its facilities to accommodate elaborate productions such as touring Broadway musicals. It serves as a model for historic renovation projects in the United States. Today, it is the home of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, BalletMet, the Broadway Series, Opera Columbus, and the CAPA Summer Movie Series.
Post cover photo from Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons.