Ohio Theatre

1511 Euclid Avenue,
Cleveland, OH 44115

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Loew's Ohio Cleveland 01

Viewing: Photo | Street View

One of two theaters occupying the large Loew’s Building (the other being the State), the Ohio Theatre opened on February 14, 1921 with 2,153 seats. It was designed by Thomas W. Lamb and, as the name of the building implies, operated, like the State Theatre, by the Loew’s circuit.

The Ohio Theatre, unlike its larger sister, the State Theatre, was originally designed as a legitimate house, though by the Depression, was used more and more infrequently. In 1935, the Ohio Theatre was converted into the Mayfair Casino, which featured a nightclub with jazz acts onstage. However, the Mayfair didn’t catch on, and closed within a year. Afterwards, the Ohio Theatre was reopened as a movie house, which it remained until 1969 when both it and the State Theatre were closed within a week of each other due to declining attendance.

Not long after closing, vandals set off the sprinklers inside the Ohio Theatre, ruining most of the ornate plasterwork decor throughout the theater’s interior. In the early-1970’s, in both the Ohio Theatre and the State Theatre, the auditorium seats were removed and auctioned off, and the ceilings of both theaters were eventually opened in many places to the elements, allowing rain and snow inside.

Fortunately, the Playhouse Square Association (formed in 1970) came to the aid of the Ohio Theatre (and the other four theaters on the Square, the State, Allen, Palace and Hanna theaters) and slowly funds were raised for the restoration of the theater.

In 1977, Cuyahoga County purchased the Loew’s Building, and both of its theaters were added to the National Register of Historic Places the following year.

Today, restored to its former elegance, the Ohio Theatre is used for smaller stage performances, concerts and live theater.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

spectrum
spectrum on August 31, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Made a mistake with one of my links above — here’s the other photo of the Ohio Theatre lobby:

View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on December 30, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Good Site and Photos.

Hibi
Hibi on January 12, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Did Cleopatra play the Ohio, does anyone know? I dont remember it playing there. (But I dont remember where it played if not, either).

rlausche
rlausche on March 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Cleopatra played the Ohio has a roadshow then moved over to the Hippodrome for its general release

zabriskie
zabriskie on December 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Yes, CLEOPATRA played road show at the Ohio. Others besides, SOUTH PACIFIC, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, the TEN COMMANDMENTS were BEN-HUR, WEST SIDE STORY, EXODUS, STAR!, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, KING OF KINGS. I think BEN HUR had the longest run.

rivest266
rivest266 on March 13, 2011 at 9:57 am

This reopened as a movie theatre on September 23rd, 1943.
ad: View link

rivest266
rivest266 on January 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

September 23rd, 1943 grand opening ad as a movie theatre has been uploaded in the photo section

Coate
Coate on March 24, 2015 at 10:22 am

It was 50 years ago today that “The Sound of Music” premiered at the Ohio Theatre. With a reserved-seat run of 91 weeks, it’s almost certainly the long-run record holder for this venue. (Anyone know of something that ran longer?)

“The Sound of Music” also was, I believe, the second of two consecutive long-running Julie Andrews movies to play this venue between 1964-66. That 24-month period would’ve been bliss or hell depending on whether or not local moviegoers were a fan of Julie!

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here. It includes a film historian Q&A and a list of the film’s roadshow engagements. I hope fans of the movie and/or theater buffs enjoy the article.

dave-bronx™
dave-bronx™ on March 24, 2015 at 2:07 pm

In the past couple days on WCPN-FM 90.3 someone was interviewing a woman previously associated with The Front Row theater and presently involved in some capacity with Playhouse Square. I wasn’t really paying attention so I didn’t take note of the names. My ears perked up, however, when the woman from Playhouse Square stated that the State Theater will be closed for a while for re-painting. She then stated that the lobby of the Ohio Theater is going to be demolished and re-built as it was before fire gutted it in the 1960s, which for the most part was the way it was at the 1922 grand opening. The photo on the overview page here is the way it was in 1922. After the fire in the ‘60s Loews re-built it as a typical modern suburban mall theater lobby with red walls, red carpet and flat acoustic tile ceiling with recessed can-lights. The theater by then was on its downhill trajectory (and would finally shut down in 1969) so not a lot of dollars or brain cells were expended on post-fire repairs. Playhouse Square’s remodeling was nice, but in no way resembled the original.

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