Woodsfield, Ohio

posted by TenaciousDan on August 9, 2005 at 7:30 am

This is my first post and I really didn’t know where to put it, so I just picked news. I live in a very small (pop under 3,000) town in East Ohio called Woodsfield. When I was younger, I knew that we had two theaters in town and after some snooping around, I learned that there was three active at the same time. That in itself is hard for me to believe.

The first was opened by the Shannon Brothers of Sistersville, WVa. on March the 19th, 1930. It was located at 138 South Main Street here in Woodsfield. The first film ever shown in town was called “Desert Song”. The place closed in the early ‘40’s. Then in October of '38, Glen and Mena Flieman opened the Monroe Theater at ao2 North Main Street. It was open till the '70’s. And in 1939, Jesse Shannon opened the New Life Theater. It was open till the '70’s and then Re-opened in the '80’s by Ellis Smithburger who changed the name to Swissland Cinema. The last picture was shown in the mid '80’s. It’s now a church.

The main reason I am writing this is to get any help on how to save and re-open an old theater. The Monroe Theater still stands today. I can remember it being used as an auction house and then as an antique mall. Now it stands there empty. This town needs something to be excited about again. I think a theater could be just what it needs.

I would like to know how I might get the ball rolling or at least getting people to care about the theater again.


Comments (58)

JoelWeide on August 9, 2005 at 9:45 am

You have a tremdous challenge ahead of you, but a most rewarding one as well. What condition is the building in, does the roof leak, if so how bad? Will you have a mold issue? Just getting the money together to purchase the physical plant is not enough. There will be a variety of issues you will need to address. First is there another group you can contact who is interested in your dream. What about raising awareness thru your local newspaper, historical society, or state preservation group. You are in a small town, finding enough people whom will be interested can be an issue. What type of theatre are you planning to operate; movie, legitimate or a community gathering place? If you intended to re-open as a movie theatre, how close is your nearest competition and how many screens do they have? One place to start can be your City Administrator or Manager, see how a restored theatre fits into the long range city planning. You may also find that this individual might have access to funding for your project as well. What ever you do, please remember when dealing with historical property, there are furstrations, challenges and an occasioinal victory. Cheers—Joel Weide

Plus4Architects on August 9, 2005 at 10:20 am


You will need to look at your options such as local agency support and non-for-profit organizations through which you can get a group together to discuss how you can get the project financed. These agencies may be able to assist you in creating a non-for profit agency specifically for this project.

One of the next steps will be to determine the feasibility of the project. An architect can help you. Our firm is currently restoring a theater in Greenfield, Indiana. On that project we have assisted the owner in securing a federal grant to supplement other funds.

I would be happy to talk with you more to offer other suggestions.

Best of luck on your endeavor,

Dirk Weber
Plus 4 Architects
7301 North Shadeland Ave., Suite C
Indianapolis, Indiana 46250

JimRankin on August 9, 2005 at 12:50 pm

See my article by clicking on this link:

I also send my best wishes, but you must realize that it will be an uphill battle, unless you happen to have Great Natural Perseverence, millions of dollars available to complete Purchase of the theatre, Renovations of the property, Securing films that your neighbors want to pay to see, and enough funds to carry you over for Years until the place MAY make a small profit. By all means, read over the FAQs and the posts of the FORUMS on the site for cinema operators: www.bigscreenbiz.com where the pros have answered many of the questions you post, and many you have yet to encounter!

CantonPalaceTech on August 9, 2005 at 1:09 pm

Dan, best luck and wishes to you. If you would like more info, email me at There is help out there.

James Colburn
James Colburn on August 9, 2005 at 10:49 pm

Dont give up my friend. You have a long road but it will add so much to so so many lives. God Bless

Troemelsp on August 13, 2005 at 9:14 pm

Best of luck on this project, things like this are rarely easy. But then again few things of value are.

When you get to the point that you have access to one of the theaters check out what you have for “inventory.” I sell things on Ebay on a commission basis and am doing so for the Rialto Theater here in Indiana. If you find you want to part with anything I can help you out. The old sound systems can be worth considerable money depending on the manufacturer. I do this to help out and to pay for my seminary education. Even empty speaker cabinets can be worth quite a bit. I just sold one for $1080.00!

Scott Troemel

mlmarek on August 30, 2005 at 1:48 pm

I work for a great oraganization that can help out with seating when the time comes. Are there existing seats in the theatre now? If so, do you know who manufactured them?? What condition are they in? What will the venue be exactly? Let me know and I might be able to send some literature your way to help you out!

pclaus on September 29, 2005 at 6:54 pm

Dan, this is SO exciting. Must be God’s providence because I’m in an MBA Cost-Benefit class and desiring to do a cost-benefit analysis on this exact topic…a movie theater in Woodsfield! I’ve wanted that old movie theater to reopen all my life. I’m originally from Lewisville (last name Claus, you may know my dad) but am in Dayton now because I’m in the military. I was researching my topic and came across this site. I would love to help/collaborate with you on your efforts in the near future as I do come and go from Monroe County quite frequently. You can reach me at .com or 937-681-2010. Pam

sunnybuckeye on December 5, 2007 at 12:29 pm

I am the grand-daughter of Jesse Shannon. My dad, Tony Shannon, is Jesse’s youngest son. Dad has a lot of info on the history of the theater and would love to talk with you if this is the info you want. It sounds like you want info more on the business end, though. Dad would be happy to talk to you about the history. He said you could ask Paul Ring (a Woodsfield barber) to give you his phone number. Or I could get you two connected. Please email me at with “Jesse Shannon’s theater” in the subject line if interested in contacting Tony.

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