The site of the current Ohio Theatre housed a much different businesses in the early 20th century.
The theater, located on East State Street, formerly was city hall as well as a library, post office and the offices of the mayor and city council. The original building was constructed in 1876.
That all changed when a fire struck the building in 1921, 10TV’s Jerry Revish reported.
Marcus Lowe, founder of the Lowe’s theater chain, came to Columbus and turned his attention towards the site on Capital Square. He had plans of building the most spectacular movie house in the nation, Revish reported.
“His goal of having this be the grandest of movie theaters was certainly met,” vice president of operations for CAPA Todd Bemis said.
Bemis said that one of the features that set the theater apart from others in the city is the gold leaf used throughout.
The grandeur of the theater did not keep customers coming, through, Revish reported.
“In the 1960s, this theater did close, and in 1969, it looked like it was going to be torn down,” Bemis said.
Columbus residents raised enough money to save the theater and started the Columbus association of the performing arts, known as CAPA.
“They were able to come up with the necessary funds to save the theater, acquire it and avoid demolition,” Bemis said. “They were able to acquire more funds to (restore) the theater, not changing things, bringing it back to what it looked like in 1928.”
Since then, big name performers and performances have graced the stage – from “Wicked” to Diana Ross.
BalletMet and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra perform regularly on the stage.
“I have the signature of all the acts that played there,” Bemis said.
Bemis said that even though the Ohio Theatre is the state theater of Ohio, it is a jewel for Columbus.
“The arts engage and make our lives better, and this theater is a vehicle to do that in,” Bemis said.
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