Ohio Theatre: Historic Building finds new life with new owners

In recent days, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) announced $2.5 million will be going to the Ohio Theatre (located at 3112 Lagrange St.) for improvements. The theatre has come under the ownership of the Children’s Theatre Workshop (CTW), a nonprofit, 501c3 organization that produces plays with children from ages 3-18 in the surrounding area.

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

History of the Theatre

The Ohio Theatre has been around since 1921, serving North Toledo with a variety of plays, films and other events. Its first event was a screening of The Mark of Zorro in 1920. It is Toledo’s oldest theatre and the last operating neighborhood theatre. Many other theatres such as the Eastwood Theatre on the east side have closed. 

Ohio Theatre is three stories with brick and stone masonry. As an 8,000 square foot neoclassical structure, the theatre provides stadium seating and has state of the art projectors and lighting for all productions. Because of the theatre’s magnificent history in the community, it was listed in the National Register for Historic Places in 2006. With this history of impact in North Toledo, it is exciting to see a promising future.

Toward the future

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

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

But the theatre still needs some renovations. While the interior is in pristine condition, the façade and marquee of the structure needs some brickwork redone to bring it to historic standards. That is where some of the $2.5 million will be going— to beautify the theatre. This will help attract people unaware of the theatre’s presence or purpose. Some of the money will also be put toward repaving the parking lot and adding lighting, signs, and security. 

CTW is also building relationships with Washington and Toledo local schools to increase involvement of children in the community. So far, CTW has about 400-450 kids per year in their programs both in their summer and after school programs.

Along with the school programs, however, CTW is promoting renting the Ohio Theatre out for local films to be shown, local bands to play and more. The theatre rents out to others about two weekends a month and is looking for more people to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Events that have been held recently at the Ohio Theatre 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 to the community to rent their theatre for an event soon.

Children’s Theatre Workshop: https://www.ctwtoledo.org/