Van Wert Cinemas

10721 Lincoln Highway,
Van Wert, OH 45891

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VAN WERT Theatre; Van Wert, Ohio (1941)

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The 800 seat Van Wert Theatre was operating prior to 1940, when at that time it was part of the Schine Circuit. It was later twinned, and in the early-2000’s three more screens were added.

Van Wert Cinemas were destroyed by a tornado on November 10, 2002. The patrons were ushered from the auditoriums to the lobby and the rest rooms that were constructed much sturdier. The tornado also destroyed the adjacent Ridgeway Drive-In and the owners home.

The Van Wert was rebuilt with five screens with the new entrance at 10709 Lincoln Highway.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

kencmcintyre on December 15, 2006 at 10:38 pm

This may be the only time I post from the Department of Commerce:

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 4, 2007 at 5:37 pm

According to this 11/8/2004 article, the Van Wert Cinemas had five screens when the tornado struck.

“Van Wert, Ohio, movie theater bounces back after tornado, will open soon.

Source: The Lima News
Byline: J.D. Bruewer

Nov. 8—VAN WERT, Ohio — Two years and two days after being nearly leveled by a tornado, the Van Wert Cinemas are set to open this Friday.

After two years of wrangling with government agencies and insurance companies, Jim and Joyce Boyd are ready to open three screens this Friday showing The Incredibles and Polar Express. For movie times go to

On Nov. 10, 2002, the Boyds, owners of the Van Wert Cinemas, and the Ridgeway and Van-Del drive-ins, saw their home and the Ridgeway destroyed by the tornado that ravaged Van Wert County. The Cinemas were severely damaged.

The Boyds had hoped to open last Friday, but couldn’t get all the details in place.

The cinemas have 5 screens, the original two from the Van Wert Twin and screens 3, 4 and 5 that were added just before the tornado struck.

As of Sunday night, the auditoriums for screens 3 and 4 are ready to go and screen 5 is close. Carpet should be laid today and the popcorn machine arrives Tuesday".

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 4, 2007 at 6:48 pm


“Former Theater Employee in Van Wert, Ohio, Wins Award for Tornado Heroism.

The Lima News, Ohio.
By Greg Sowinski

Dec. 19—VAN WERT, Ohio—Even when his name is on the award and it’s his moment in the spotlight, former Van Wert Cinemas Assistant Manager Scott Shaffer credits others while shyly accepting the honor.

Shaffer was awarded the State Fire Marshal’s Award for Heroism on Wednesday for helping usher more than 60 people to safety as a killer tornado moved toward the cinema Nov. 10.

The award was established last year. Shaffer is the third recipient. The honor puts Shaffer with 74 members of a federal search and rescue team based out of Dayton that received the first award for helping during the rescue efforts in New York City following the attacks on the World Trade Center, said Robert Rielage, state fire marshal. Shaffer called Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy a hero for setting up the county’s emergency notification system, which alerts cinemas and other locations of tornadoes and other dangers. He believes McCoy deserves the hero honor.

The tornado leveled houses and tossed anything in its path. When the cinemas received the first warning of a potential tornado less than a half hour before it hit, Shaffer said, he didn’t take it too seriously.

“The first couple of minutes, I didn’t think much of it,” he said. “I thought it was going to be another false alarm.” But, as alarms continued to sound, Shaffer grew worried and made the decision to move everyone to the restrooms at Van Wert Cinemas for cover. While directing people to the restrooms, Shaffer went outside to gather people to safety when he saw the tornado.

“I didn’t know what I was seeing. I froze for a few seconds,” he said, explaining the powerful sight he witnessed.

Within minutes, the tornado destroyed the cinemas and tossed cars on seats children sat in watching a movie less than a half hour before. For his efforts, local and state officials call Shaffer a hero. “It’s an honor. I wish (the tornado) had never happened,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a hero.”

State Sen. Lynn Wachtmann, R- Napoleon, and state Rep. James Hoops, R-Napoleon, invited Shaffer to Columbus to be recognized in the Ohio House and Senate.

Van Wert Cinemas owner Jim Boyd said he plans to rebuild the cinemas if he receives a federal disaster loan. If the loan is approved, it will be sometime next year before construction starts, he said. Boyd also plans to bring Shaffer back to work, if he wants to return, Boyd said.

“We have always thought the world of Scott. He’s worked for us for years,” he said".

kencmcintyre on November 5, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Here is another photo of the destruction in 2002:

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on November 5, 2007 at 6:39 pm

You might want to try that link again.

kencmcintyre on August 13, 2009 at 7:12 am

Here is a February 1940 ad from the Van Wert Times-Bulletin:

Bruce_Bartoo on March 1, 2012 at 8:27 pm

That ad is for the downtown Schine’s Van Wert Theatre, which is probably the 800 seat house referred to above. I know that it had been closed for quite awhile by the mid-1990s. The repurposed building still stands, minus marquee and decorative frills, on the northwest corner of East Main and North Market Streets.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on March 2, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Hopefully someday they will reopen the drive-in back up.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 16, 2014 at 11:40 am

This should be listed as open as the cinemas have reopened since the tornado in the same building, although with additions and renovations.

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