Nicknamed the Heart of Ohio for good reason, Mansfield is a city teeming with Midwestern history and beauty. One local landmark, restored to its Roaring Twenties glory, has plenty of both: the Renaissance Theatre. While you're browsing Mansfield homes for sale, get to know the city and its neighborhoods a little better, starting with one of the landmarks that make our downtown district so special. Here's what you need to know about the Renaissance Theatre on Park Avenue.
The Renaissance Theatre started life as a majestic movie house called the Ohio Theater. A Clara Bow movie was the main attraction on opening night, and it thrived for its first two decades, hosting movie premieres and touring Broadway shows when it wasn't showing iconic films like The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca. In 1980, the Ohio Theater became the Renaissance Theatre, and the lights came back on after years of wear and tear. The theater still has its original seats and Grand Baroque design details, but other elements bring it into the 21st century, such as the hydraulic lift in the orchestra pit and the updated glass skywalk connecting the theater to the hotel next door.
When the Ohio Theater was constructed in 1928, it cost $500,000, a staggering figure that would be more than $7 million in today's dollars. What made the movie house so expensive? For starters, the pre-show entertainment was a $40,000 Kimball organ that lifted up from beneath the stage, and the floors and stairways were made of gleaming imported marble. Another touch that hiked up the price: a 3,000-pound lead crystal chandelier, which still hangs over the slung balcony and gets lowered by hand-crank every year to change its 105 bulbs. When the theater was renovated in the 1980s, it got a new concessions area in the lobby, which is still filled with artistic details such as leaves, vines, and sea horses all over the ceiling and walls.
After years of extensive renovations and restorations, the Renaissance has returned to its former glory as the main source of neighborhood entertainment. The Mansfield Symphony calls the theater home, and other concerts and shows take the stage throughout the year, including touring Broadway shows that make full use of the theater's state-of-the-art lighting and sound upgrades. Miss Ohio gets her crown here too: The annual pageant takes place on the stage, and contestants use multiple suites of dressing rooms and offstage dressing booths to get ready. The current organ, a replacement installed in 1985, is also the star of two annual events: the "Christmas at the Mighty Wurlitzer" holiday concert and the "Summer at the Organ" summer concert series.
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