Norwalk Theatre

57 E. Main Street,
Norwalk, OH 44857

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Norwalk Theatre

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The Norwalk Theatre was built in 1941 for the Schine Theatres chain. It contains a balcony seating 224 and there are 700 seats in the orchestra. There is a theatre organ on a lift, and an orchestra pit. It also has a stage set-up for shows. The theater has all of its original art and fixtures intact and working. The theater has been constructed in a Greek-Deco style and it has the largest marquee in Ohio. The theater showed movies as well as live shows and concerts. It was closed in late-2011.

Contributed by Connie Cole

Recent comments (view all 64 comments)

coriolanus
coriolanus on August 25, 2012 at 5:05 am

The theatre was purchased by a local man but the transfer hasn’t yet taken place according to the county auditor’s website. Default on mortgage and property taxes resulted in the low sale price. Judging from the interior and exterior appearance, it will take many $$$ to clean and restore.

coriolanus
coriolanus on December 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Update on the Norwalk Theatre: the new owner has begun repairing the roof on the building. No doubt there will be a great deal of interior work to deal with as well. There doesn’t appear to be a re-open date available yet but it’s a step in the right direction!

Jdedjane
Jdedjane on April 15, 2013 at 1:10 am

I managed the theater from 2007 until late 2008 under incredibly inept owners!! The LaFountains ran that place into the ground and alienated themselves from the community. I grew up in Norwalk and they hired me to work with the community to help out their already soiled reputation. They were not even from Ohio and enjoyed selling most of the valuable out of the theater in order to “make back the money that they lost in buying the dump.” ( their NOT mine) I ended up quitting because they refused to pay me and ended up owing me over $300 for the hard work and sweat equity that I and my family put into that place to see it succeed. They left a bad taste in a lot of peoples mouths. I have high hopes for the new owners but they have to fork out the money for the damage that the LaFountains let happen by refusing to fix the roof after I had SEVERAL contactors come in to give them estimates. They thought that because they had a 5 screen movie theater in Michigan that they could run this place. I have so many other stories about their blatant neglect of this beautiful building.

coriolanus
coriolanus on April 22, 2013 at 1:10 am

Interesting previous comment! The 2006 purchasers of the Norwalk Theatre were provided with a “turnkey” operation. Everything necessary (and more!) to begin providing live entertainment was included in the sale. The place was certainly not “a dump” as they may have told others. The building was absolutely clean. The 2006 purchasers visited the area several times and took photos of the premises so they knew exactly what they were purchasing. It is quite true that many things in the buildings were taken out and sold: original lighting fixtures in the lobby, racks of valuable costumes, the theatre organ and the grand piano are ones of which I’m aware. Unfortunately they also asked people to “donate” to their profit-making venture—which was NOT a 501©3 operation. Since the most recent sale in July 2012, besides the roofing repairs and some changing light bulbs, nothing else appears to have been done and there is no re-open date scheduled. Really sad as T & C Players, who had owned the building since 1974, filled the place for years with live shows and concerts.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 22, 2013 at 1:28 am

In light of some previous comments, is this bad news for Fenton?

EHaug
EHaug on May 11, 2013 at 1:45 am

I have been associated with 3 owners of the theatre including the present one. All have been interested in making the theatre a success. Operating an older theatre is hard work and requires a lot of time, dedication, and money, and progress is sometimes slow. If you want the theatre to succeed – try volunteering your time and energy.

coriolanus
coriolanus on June 4, 2013 at 3:26 am

Between the years of 2006-2010, the were a few “volunteers” who provided gratis services during that period. There were also 4 different managers for the theatre, not including those who were interviewed for that position. Bartering for goods/services in return for advertising was also, I believe, an issue which eventually didn’t sit well with the local population. During the Schine years, prior to 1971, the theatre HIRED local people to work in part-time positions. If a business is a “for profit” entity, it’s an unwise business move to ask for volunteer workers.

jukingeo
jukingeo on March 13, 2014 at 2:17 am

@coriolanus Have you heard any updates in regards to the Norwalk Theatre? From reading your updates, it sounds like the current owner has fixed or is fixing the roof. That is a plus. But I am curious to hear more about anything new. I am hoping the new owner is going to care for this building. Unlike the prior owners which nearly destroyed the place.

To other’s reading: I can concur with Coriolanus as being one of the persons interested in the theatre when Towne And Country was selling the theater. When I looked at the building in 2006, it was pretty much turn-key. The building did need work, but it was very much usable and in good condition. When I was there the building only needed the ceiling repainted, the balcony carpet redone and some update work needed in the dressing room areas. Everything else was fine. What more is that the projection booth had two original carbon arc projectors in excellent running condition.

The sign did need some minor work, but let me tell you when the owners (Towne And Country) lit that marquee up for me it was like a scene from the movie “The Majestic”. I was just floored. They simply don’t make marquee’s like that of the Norwalk anymore. In fact that night as people drove by, they slowed down to get a good look thinking perhaps something was going on.

I really hope to God that something is done with this place as it would be a tremendous loss if it is let go to waste. It truly is a beautiful place and a snapshot from history as the building still contained many original fixtures (at lest when I visited in 2006).

Geo

coriolanus
coriolanus on March 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

The new owner has been doing some interior/exterior work however the building appears to be without central heating at the present time. The owner has done some repair work on the marquee and removed some exterior paint on the front of the building to reveal the original stencil work and color. On the inside, the panels over the “half-wainscotting” have been removed which would tend to have lighting from the interior lobby spill into the auditorium. There is a Facebook Page—(type in the search box “The Norwalk Theatre” and there should be some photos. No event for the building has been set up as far as I know. Regarding the balcony carpeting: this was the original floorcovering from when the theatre was constructed. As the balcony wasn’t open that frequently, it remained in relatively good shape and the original color was still bright.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on March 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Added some pictures from the Norwalk Theatre Facebook page.

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