Akron Civic Theatre

182 South Main Street,
Akron, OH 44308

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Akron Civic Theatre - View from rear balcony

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as Loew’s Akron Theatre on April 20, 1929, the Atmospheric styled and opulent theater was designed by John Eberson. Integrating Moorish and Mediterranean design, the Civic Theatre is one of the largest Atmospheric style theaters still in existence.

Restored in 2000, and still beautifully maintained, the renamed Akron Civic Theatre is the focal point of the arts community in this Ohio college town.

Contributed by JB Lewis

Recent comments (view all 66 comments)

FriarFrank
FriarFrank on September 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

In the early 1990s, I had the privilege of sitting in this theater and seeing the film “Awakenings.” i remember coming early just so I could see the beauty that was still so evident in the architecture and design of this building, all accented by colorful lighting.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on December 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

This theatre was going to be built as the Hippodrome,when it was still being built Marque Loew bought and finished it,Renaming it the Loews Akron.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on December 29, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Of course Chuck,sorry for the typo,too bad he did not live to see this one or many other of his theatres open.As a child he was known as “Max” Loew as I am sure you know.His brother Henry was the manager of the Loews National until his death at the age of 66.

cinscope
cinscope on July 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm

The lobby is built on concrete stilts over the Ohio canal. Mr. Loew did not live to see the opening on April 20, 1929. It contains a 3/13 Wurlitzer that is still used.

Patsy
Patsy on July 1, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I have toured this 1929 theatre and told about and saw the concrete stilts over the Ohio canal.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm

A number of earlier comments have noted the narrowness of the Akron Civic Theatre’s entrance, but I don’t think anyone has commented on why it is so narrow, or why it is designed in such a different architectural style than Eberson’s Moorish-Spanish theater. In fact, the theater’s entrance was designed by a different architect, C. Howard Crane, and it was built about a decade before the theater itself.

Originally, the current theater entrance was intended to be only one entrance to a large project called the Hippodrome Arcade, which was to have included a glass-roofed galleria lined with thirty shops as well as a theater with some 3000 seats. As told in this Akron Beacon Journal article, the Hippodrome Arcade Company was founded in 1917 by L. Oscar Beck, but the project proved to be too ambitious, and the company collapsed in 1921. Only the entrance building with its Italian Renaissance facade was completed.

In late 1926, Marcus Loew bought the property at a sheriff’s auction. Crane’s original plans were abandoned, and Loew’s Akron Theatre was built on part of the site that Beck had intended for the shopping arcade (the original plans had the Hippodrome Theatre at the far end of the arcade, adjacent to Water Street, where there is now a parking lot.) Crane’s original entrance building was only slightly modified when the new theater was built, and thus retains its Italian style.

TivFan
TivFan on November 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

I’ve read through the commments about the photos, etc. Do you realize you can take the Google Street View into the interior of the theatre? It is amazing! I have a postcard (c. 1940’s) of an aerial view of downtown Akron which shows the auditorium building, with LOEW’S painted on it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for the clue about Street View, TivFan. I had no idea this was available. Everybody should check this out! You can go right down to the stage and use the zoom feature to get a close-up view of the organ console, and close-ups of all the decorations along the way.

normstern
normstern on October 13, 2014 at 7:59 pm

I have reviewed all 64 comments to date and totally enjoy the memories! Loew’s was the finest downtown theater in my opinion, a lot because of Wild Oscar playing the organ while the audience sang along, I believe, to the words on the screen. I saw only one comment about the ceiling mentioning the small lights like stars. But, besides the stars there were also DRIFTING CLOUDS

normstern
normstern on October 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I didn’t get to complete my comment! Yes, DRIFTING CLOUDS!!! This was in the 1940s and 1950s! I have always wondered how they produced those clouds! One other commenter remarked about nearby restaurants. One correct spelling was Garden Grille. Correct for the other was Kaase’s, which was on Mill Street and where my aunt used to work, opposite the Colonial theater. One comment about the Colonial mentioned three steep balconies, but of three levels only two were balconies, and that second balcony really was steep! Another commenter thought downtown Akron’s Main Street was perhaps not as busy as he remembered it being…I say OH YES it was! The wide sidewalks were always full of people, both shoppers and people in between busses! All bus routes but one in Akron traversed Main Street and stopped in front of Polsky’s department store going one way, and across the street in front of 0'neil’s department store on their return trip. I know because as a young teen I used to use my mother’s weekly bus pass, ride any bus to end of line and coming back on the other side of the street I would get off and then get on next bus coming and ride it to end and back, and repeat! Other downtown theaters I did not see mentioned were Strand, Palace (had also a balcony-level entrance from High St.), and Forum. I know there was one more south of O'neil’s but don’t recall name. One other comment did mention the Orpheum which was at the north end of S. Main St. at East Market St. Someone mentioned population of I believe 200,000, but as I recall, Akron population in the busy 40s was 250,000, most of whom rode busses past all those theaters every week, except on the Crosstown route taking so many people with second jobs between Goodyear on the east side and Goodrich and Firestone on the west! One more Main St. theater was the Gaiety(sp?), but it did NOT show movies! There were probably about fifteen more neighborhood theaters in Akron at that time! I can only recall Norka, Rialto, Royal, Gem, Ellet, Highland?, Goodyear Heights?, Spicer. This has been fun to recall! Thanks for the opportunity!

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