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    The Profound & Historic Renovation of Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre


    Playhouse Square has updated all five of its historic stages, including the 2,800-seat Connor Palace, the 3,200-seat State, the 500-seat Allen, the 1,000 seat Ohio Theatre and the 550-seat Hanna.

    Once threatened with demolition, all five of these historic stages are now updated. The completion of the Ohio Theatre’s renovation, on top of the $16 million streetscape improvements which included the installation of the world's largest outdoor chandelier, ensures that Playhouse Square will continue to serve as a major tourist destination well into the future.

    Ohio Theatre’s transformational renovation began in March 2015, during the Playhouse Square’s 100 year anniversary. It is the final theatre in the arts complex to receive a face-lift. The $5 million price tag could have stalled the project, but a $3 million grant from the George Gund Foundation allowed Playhouse Square to overcome great odds and complete the restoration.

    The State Theatre’s lobby was completed in 2014 and cost over $2 million.Traditional, historic craftsmanship was combined with the precision of modern digital technology to restore the lobby that was almost completely destroyed during a fire in the 1960s.The State Theatre’s lobby was completed just before the Ohio’s and cost over $2 million.

    Both local and national partners helped piece the historic lobby back together while keeping an eye on necessary HVAC, fire safety and lighting upgrades. EverGreene Architectural Arts in New York utilized Thomas Lamb's
    who designed nearly 300 theatres worldwide, early drawings and period photographs of the original interior plasterwork to recreate the elaborate ceiling. Westlake Reed Leskosky of Cleveland, the largest architecture firm in Northeast Ohio and one with a unique connection to Playhouse Square, assisted in ensuring the neoclassical style was restored to its original glory. In 1976, Westlake Reed Leskosky’s former partner, Peter van Dijk, (who designed Blossom Music Center as well as Cain Park Amphitheater on Cleveland's East Side), authored an influential master plan for the playhouse theatre district paving the way to today’s restorations. The firm has designed over 88 historic theatres across the United States and has designed over 44 new theatres.

    Recognizing the importance of Playhouse Square as an economic, cultural and historic asset, the City of Cleveland supported the renovation of the Ohio Theatre. The Department of Economic Development provided a $1 million Urban Development Action Grant forgivable loan to Playhouse Square for the project. 

    With 11 stages and more than 10,000 seats, Playhouse’s arts complex is second only in size to Lincoln Center in New York City. The organization received national recognition in 2015 when it received Broadway’s highest honor: the Regional Theatre Tony Award. 

    The City is thrilled to see the successful completion of the Ohio Theatre’s restoration and looks forward to another 100 years of theatre and arts in Playhouse Square.

    Above Photo Credit: Cleveland City Hall Photo Bureau

    To find out more about this project please contact Shashonna Duckworth by email or directly by calling (216) 664-3010.