How a search for a lecture hall led to the rescue of Cleveland’s Playhouse Square theaters
CLEVELAND, OH — One of the nation’s most successful theater restoration projects had a very simple beginning: the search of a Cleveland Board of Education worker looking for a place that could be used as a temporary lecture hall. Borrowing the keys to the closed, soon-to-be demolished State Theater on Euclid Avenue, Ray Shepardson unwittingly began the effort that would culminate in the rescue and restoration of the State, Ohio, Palace, Allen, and Hanna theaters over the next forty years, as well as changing the direction of his life forever.
It had been stripped of its Greek, Roman and Baroque filigrees in preparation for its demolition. But Shepardson, a former Mercedes salesman with no experience in theater or historic preservation, was impressed.
“I was in awe,” Shepardson, now 66, said from Wheaton, Ill., where he has been trying for five years to restore another historic theater.
Read the story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.