Liberty Theater

5591 Liberty Avenue,
Vermilion, OH 44089

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Liberty Theater, Vermilion, Ohio 1981

It is located in downtown Vermilion, Ohio. The building dates to 1870 when it was a dry good store. It became a theater around the 1930’s and was open until the 1980’s. A few years ago it was purchased, gutted, and turned into a retail coffee/decorating/antique shop.

My wife and I purchased it in May of 2002 and opened it in November of 2002. We used the lobby and 60 feet for retail (music boxes, radios, record players, organs, clocks, windmills, sales and service). The remaining (rear) 50 feet contain the stage and balance of the auditorium. Our plans were to restore the building (50' area and stage first) and return to showing movies. We purchased a Wurlitzer Horseshoe Theater Organ Console and planned to eventually install it with the pipe chamber above stage right. We also hoped to install a temporary screen in the showroom area in order to do some screenings. Unfortunately these plans never came to fruition.

Contributed by Earl W. Haug

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

chspringer on April 22, 2005 at 11:06 am

Yes, the rail line runs behind the theatre building. I don’t remember hearing any trains, but I sure it was possible. By the way, the bulid as built held maybe 300 seats. Sometime in the late forties or very early fifties, the rear of the building was extended and the seating capacity increase to 507. If you look at the side of the building you can see where the extention starts. My family left Ohio in 1959 and I did not return to visit until 2003. I visited with Earl and was impressed by his determination to do the restoration as accurately as possible. In 1959 Vermillion was a town of commercial fishing and summer cottages. I was surprised at how little of the original appearance had in the passing years. I plan to go back again after the theater is completely restored and relive a few childhood memories.

Hibi on April 22, 2005 at 11:48 am

I havent been up there in years. I used to go there in the 70’s sometimes to catch up on movies I missed on first run. It was a nice little theater. The trains werent too bothersome.

chspringer on March 24, 2006 at 1:39 pm

Since I’m in California it’s hard to keep up on my Ohio childhood haunts. Does anyone have any updated info on how the restoration is progressing on the Liberty. Thanks

chspringer on January 17, 2009 at 2:41 am

The Liberty may have had only 252 seats when first opened, however the building was enlarged by adding to the back end. Not sure what year, but late 40s or early 50s. Seating after that was 507 in a long narrow auditorium. You can clerly see where the extension to the building started by looking at the outside walls.

chspringer on July 28, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Since Earl Haug listed this theater in 2002 there has been no restoration work done. I talked to him when I was on vacation in Vermillion in 2005 and he seemed very positive about the project at that time. It would now appear that he has closed up his storefront and different people have taken over. I’m afraid that the planned restoration may have been dropped. Anyone have any updated info?

EHaug on May 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

From 2002 through 2006 we were able to make many improvements/upgrades to the building (electrical, doors, windows, HVAC, brickwork, etc.) but sad to say we were unable to complete the restoration and sold the building to a very nice local gentleman. We moved our retail store (The Music Box) to Olmsted Falls.

dallasmovietheaters on May 12, 2016 at 10:58 pm

1920 shot of the Liberty Theatre at grand opening in photos.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 21, 2016 at 6:07 pm

In 1955, the Liberty was the only movie house operating in Vermilion, according to an ad in the June 21 issue of The Lorain Journal. The house was operated by Zegiob Theaters Inc., a local chain also operating the Dreamland and Pearl Theatres in Loraine. The ad noted that, in recent years, the Liberty’s seating capacity had been doubled to 500.

ericthured on September 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

I wonder, does anyone remember watching Sgt Pepper’s movie 1978/79, Flash Gordon 1980? Many kids sat in the aisles because it was so packed on a Friday night, and everyone sang along! Those were great days mixed with much mischief! We were very fortunate to live in such a place at that time and to have a theatre like that in our youth. For the sake of the youth who live there now, I hope it reopens and plays the good movies for their age, even if they’re older movies.

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