Ohio Theatre: historic building finds new life with new owners

In recent days, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) announced $2.5 million will go to the Ohio theater (located at 3112 Lagrange St.) for upgrades. The theater became the property of the Children’s Theater Workshop (CTW), a 501c3 non-profit organization that produces plays with children ages 3-18 in the area.

CTW previously resided at the Collingwood Art Center but outgrew it and moved to the Ohio Theater in November 2020 after purchasing it through Land Bank. The program offers children the opportunity to pursue acting and stage production as a hobby or career without the added pressure of making it professional. This allows students to put as much effort as they feel comfortable into the productions.

History of the Theater

The Ohio Theater has been around since 1921, serving North Toledo with a variety of plays, movies, and other events. Its first event was a screening of The Mark of Zorro in 1920. It is the oldest theater in Toledo and the last neighborhood theater in operation. Many other theaters such as the Eastwood Theater on the east side have closed.

Ohio Theater is made up of three floors of brick and stone masonry. As an 8,000 square foot neoclassical structure, the theater offers stadium seating and features state-of-the-art projectors and lighting for all productions. Due to the wonderful history of theater in the community, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. With this history of impact in North Toledo, it is exciting to see a promising future.

To the future

Aimee Reid, the theater organization’s executive artistic director, said she wants to see businesses around theater thrive, as well as the theater itself.

“When people go to the theater for an event or a show, they are also interested in the shops and restaurants around the theatre. I believe our work will contribute to the economic growth of the community,” says Aimee.

But the theater still needs some renovations. While the interior is in pristine condition, the facade and marquee of the structure needs some brickwork redone to bring it up to historic standards. That’s where part of the $2.5 million will go — to spruce up the theater. This will help attract people who are unaware of the theater’s presence or purpose. Some of the money will also go towards repaving the parking lot and adding lighting, signage and security.

CTW also builds relationships with local schools in Washington and Toledo to increase child participation in the community. So far, CTW has about 400-450 children per year in its programs, both in its summer programs and after school.

Along with school programs, CTW promotes the rental of the Ohio Theater for showing local movies, showing local bands and much more. The theater rents to others about two weekends a month and is looking for more people to take advantage of this opportunity.

Recent events at the Ohio Theater include a show by Oliver Hazard (an indie-folk band from Waterville) and a BGSU play. CTW invites those who aspire to share their performing arts with the community to rent their theater for an event soon.

Theater workshop for children: https://www.ctwtoledo.org/

About Darnell Yu

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