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The Ohio Theatre, now a National Historic Landmark, came perilously close to demolition before being rescued by the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) in 1969. CAPA has owned and operated this theater since, while conducting a careful, ongoing restoration.

The Ohio Theatre was part of the Loew’s chain, the creation of Marcus Loew, who later helped form the film production company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. For his Columbus movie palace Loew chose theater designer Thomas W. Lamb, who displayed his versatility by simultaneously designing the much more restrained and quite different Palace Theatre on West Broad Street.

The Ohio Theatre’s severe stone and terra-cotta Beaux-Arts exterior belies its sumptuous interior finishes. It is difficult to believe that it took only about a year to build. Look closely at the ornate ticket booth at the sidewalk; it hints that something special awaits beyond the brass doors. Best described as Moorish Baroque in character, the interior contains a small multistory entry lobby of gracious proportions. Other interior features include large pieces of black glass, a gorgeous stained-glass ceiling, and a two-and-one-half-ton chandelier. For a glimpse of the original theater, see the photographs on the mezzanine.

Because the original lobby was too small for the building’s new use as a concert and live performance venue, the Galbreath Pavilion was constructed to the east to provide additional space for intermissions and special events, rehearsal space, dressing rooms, and administrative offices. Note that the maroon glazed terra-cotta on the west wall mimics a stage curtain. The State Street side of this compatible contemporary addition is buff brick to reflect the original theater’s character. Along its east side are theater and office entrances. A glassroofed walkway leads to Columbus City Center.

The Ohio Theatre is well worth a visit for one of the many theatrical and musical events held here; the auditorium seats nearly 2,900 and the acoustics are excellent.

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