It has been recently announced that the Gund Foundation has committed $3million to the Playhouse Square campaign with the funds going to the restoration of the Ohio Theatre Lobby (including the outer lobby area) to its original 1921 splendor. In recognition of this donation, the lobby will be renamed as the “George Gund Foundation Lobby.” The Ohio Theatre Lobby is the last of the great lobbies and the final jewel on the crown of the Playhouse Square complex to be restored.
“Playhouse Square is one of Cleveland’s great success stories,” said David Abbott, Gund Foundation executive director. “This gift to Playhouse Square’s “Advancing the Legacy Campaign” helps ensure that Clevelanders will continue to enjoy the arts and cultural programs that take place in its beautifully restored theaters for years to come.”
“The Gund Foundation has been a great supporter of the arts and of Playhouse Square for many years,” said Art J. Falco, president and CEO of Playhouse Square. “We are grateful for this gift and excited to begin restoring what will become known as the George Gund Foundation Lobby to its former glory.”
The Ohio Theatre was the first of the five historic Playhouse Square theaters that was restored after a fire severely damaged the theater in 1964. At the time of its 1980 renovation funding and time was in short supply thus the auditorium and lobby were restored to a simple contemporary design. This new restoration (beginning in July) will see the current lobby walls in both the main lobby and outer lobby torn down to expose the original structure. Safety scaffolding will be put in place so that the theater may remain open during the renovation which includes hand sculpted ornamentation, the recreation of the original murals, fireplaces, painting and new carpeting.
The re-creation of the lobby design is a collaboration between EverGreene Architectural Arts and Westlake Reed Leskosky. Construction services will be provided by Turner Construction and The Coniglio Company.
“We are going to re-construct this lobby as authentically as possible,” said Jeff Greene, president and executive project director of EverGreene Architectural Arts. “You will see a phoenix rise from the ashes when we are done.”
“Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square,” led by chairs Thomas Adler, K.K. Sullivan and Daniel Walsh, is the largest philanthropic effort ever pursued by the organization. $57 million dollars have been raised toward the campaign to date and its objectives are: capital improvements, endowment growth, neighborhood transformation, education programming and new productions.