Tag Archives: 90th anniversary

Web_Renaissance-Theatre-photo-by-Jeff-Sprang

Thank You for 90 Years

by Colleen Cook

This past weekend, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the opening of our theatre, but we’re really celebrating this big milestone all season long. The reality is, our history is rich with the legacy of countless people who gave their time, their talents, and their resources to preserve our venue as a vibrant source of arts and culture for future generations.

It’s hard to imagine how many people have sat inside our auditorium, how many have stood upon our stage, how many have volunteered countless hours, or made a sacrificial donation to invest in the arts in Mansfield.  When you talk to lifelong Mansfielders, so many share memories of growing up coming to films at the Ohio, or as they get younger, shows and concerts at the Renaissance. The reality is, this incredible space holds special memories for nearly everyone who has sat in one of its seats.

I’ve been on staff for five years, and while I’ve heard about some incredible shows and seen many more, what I’ve loved is hearing your stories of first dates, proposals, parents and grandparents, and time shared under our magnificent chandelier. The arts and entertainment bring people together – we were created to share stories with the ones we care about, and those are the things that bind the Renaissance/the Ohio to our hearts.

When I bring my own small children into our space, I’m proud to create new memories in this special historic venue with them too. My daughter has seen more live theatre and music in her four short years than I had by the time I graduated high school, and I’m so grateful to have this space in our town to cement a lifelong love for the arts and entertainment.

So, thank you. Thank you for investing, for attending, for volunteering, for committing, and for performing. Thank you for believing that Mansfield deserves great arts and culture. Thank you for the past ninety years, and for the next ninety. We are so grateful.

Renaissance Chandelier Restoration 2015 photo by Jeff Sprang

The Ohio Reborn

by Colleen Cook

Ninety years is more than most people get to enjoy on earth. Mansfield has changed in so many ways over the past 90 years, our world has changed in so many ways, the fact that anything remains the same is nothing short of a miracle.

Yet, here we are in 2018 and Mansfield still flocks to the same beautiful venue for arts and entertainment. The Renaissance Theatre opened as the Ohio Theatre in 1928, and was for many years a popular destination for cinema and traveling acts. By the 1960s and into the 1970s, though, movie palaces declined severely in popularity, and nearly every theatre like the Ohio was victim to the age of television and multiplexes. One-screen movie palaces just couldn’t compete.

Renaissance quite literally means “rebirth,” and the theatre’s name change in 1980 could not have been more apt for the story that followed. In the late 1970s, the theatre had closed following public outrage as it had become a XXX film house.

Around the same time, the Miss Ohio Pageant committee had been searching for a venue large enough to house the pageant and with the capacity to do a television broadcast of the state pageant. The committee came into the space and cleaned it up (I’ve heard from individuals on that committee that it was in a very sorry state at that point).  A local group of community-minded individuals had been working to save the Madison Theatre down the street, and redirected their efforts to the Ohio Theatre.  Philanthropists Fran and Warren Rupp purchased the venue and donated it to the group, renaming it to the Renaissance Theatre.

In the mid-1980s, a $2.25 million capital campaign successfully restored the space and repurposed it as a performing arts center. The restoration was completed by Richland Renovating, the same group who completed the plaster, paint, and silk updates over the past two years at the theatre. A new theatre organ was installed, this time a magnificent Mighty Wurlitzer (the theatre’s original Kimball Organ had been sold off by prior owners), and fixtures from the Leland Hotel and the Sturges Mansion were later integrated into the theatre as well.


Celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the theatre with us at our 90th Anniversary Weekend – learn more here.

January 18, 1928 Mansfield News Promo

90 Years of Entertainment

by Colleen Cook

The Renaissance is celebrating a really big birthday this year – it’s the 90th anniversary of our theatre opening on Park Avenue West in Mansfield.

The Ohio Theatre was a big deal to Mansfield well before it opened on a cold January night in 1928. There were already several theatres in town, including two run by the same company that built the Ohio, but the Ohio promised to be the biggest and most modern of them all. It was advertised as Mansfield’s $500,000 theatre, which would be $7 million in today’s dollars – no small investment!

In 1928, silent films accompanied by theatre organs were the craze, and movie palaces and vaudeville houses were all over the country. The Ohio Theatre ran four showings a day, year-round, charging around 50 cents per showing. The first film shown at the theatre starred Clara Bow, a film sensation at the time, and was called “Get Your Man,” telling the story of a man and a woman who had been betrothed as infants by their parents, and who met later in life and fell in love.

Like many building projects in Mansfield, and beyond, the construction and opening of the venue was optimistic and ultimately, delayed. They had hoped to open by Christmas 1927, but delays in construction materials slowed the process and delayed the opening until January 19, 1928.

The news articles at the time indicate a general concern and frustration with the delays, given a slightly unconventional construction process that left a large pit for what was perceived as too long as the team waited for materials. As we all know now in hindsight, those concerns were unmerited given the long tenure of the theatre on Park Avenue West since.

The Ohio Theatre was designed by Cleveland architect Nicola Petti. At the time, he had also designed several Cleveland-area theatres, including the Variety Theatre built at the same time as the Ohio with many similar design features. Nicola Petti designed a small handful of theatres before his untimely death in 1929, and only four of those remain standing today including the Renaissance.

The opening night advertisement for the theatre dedicated it to, “the future progress of Mansfield.” How true those words have been over the past 90 years, as we today continue to utilize this space to welcome tens of thousands each year for arts, entertainment, conversation, and community.

This month, we’ll highlight some of the significant moments in the past 90 years as we gear up to celebrate. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this monumental occasion – learn more about our 90th Anniversary Weekend here.

 

Celebrating 90 Years of Growth

As we mentioned last week, we’re in the midst of an Annual Fund Campaign, which you can participate in here. This year, our goal is to raise $110,000, and we’ve already secured $45,000 in matching gifts to help us get there together.

2018 marks our theatre’s 90th Anniversary since opening in a blizzard in January 1928. We treasure these 90 years as Mansfield’s home for outstanding arts and entertainment, and look forward to celebrating them with you throughout our 90th Anniversary Weekend.