[graphic] Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
[graphic] Link to Canal Home  [graphic] Link to List of Sites  [graphic] Link to Maps  [graphic] Link to Essays  [graphic] Link to Learn More  [graphic] Link to Itineraries Home Page  [graphic] Link to National Register of Historic Places Home Page
[graphic] Previous Site
Playhouse Square Group
[graphic] Next Site

Playhouse Square Group
Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, photo by Veronica Glashauckas

Cleveland's Playhouse Square Group is an unusual surviving cluster of post-World War I legitimate theaters and early motion picture playhouses. Of the five theaters, all housed in commercial buildings, four are connected by various stage doors and lobby passageways. Playhouse Square, built within a three year period, is a result of Joseph Laronge's efforts at turning upper Euclid Avenue into a district of shops and theaters. He later became known as the "father of the district," after partnering with syndicate theater owner Marcus Loew. Soon after the first two theaters in Playhouse Square were built--the Ohio and State Theatres--Laronge and Loew merged several companies to form Loew's Ohio Theatres. The Ohio and State were designed by noted theater architect Thomas Lamb, who considered the State to be one of his finest theaters. The Hanna Theatre, across the street in the Hanna Building, followed. The Allen Theatre in the Bulkey Building and the Palace Theatre in the B. F. Keith Building completed the group.

[photo] Historic view of Playhouse Square, c. 1933
Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State University Library

All the theaters were designed in Renaissance Revival styles and used primarily for business and entertainment. The exterior of the buildings contain rounded-arches, projected cornices and windows that have a wide frieze set in smooth stone. The grand interiors also carry out the Renaissance theme, but with some distinct variations. The State Theatre's Italian Renaissance style lobby features four 50-foot high murals depicting classical scenes, a paneled ceiling with hexagonal domes and eight Ionic columns that support projecting sections of a continuous entablature. The Ohio Theatre's interior features a central dome and hexagonal coffered ceiling with Tuscan pilaster and an elliptical proscenium arch. The Hanna Theater has a Pompeian influence with its travertine walls, frescoed paintings and Corinthian pilaster supporting incised architraves. The Allen Theatre's's interior also has a Pompeian influence, but is dominated by the lobby rotunda, said to be a replica of the Villa Madonna near Rome. It was one of the first theaters constructed with an attached garage, as well as one of the first theaters designed specifically for movies, without a stage. The Palace Theater was the most lavish of the theaters. Designed by noted Chicago architects Rapp and Rapp, the Palace has a Neo-classical three-story lobby, various colors of marble finishes, a wood-paneled French Empire powder room, black and gold Turkish smoking room, extensive backstage facilities for the leading vaudeville entertainers, and excellent acoustics.

Today, the interconnected historic theaters form the country's second largest performing arts center. Playhouse Square continues to offer Clevelander's a place of entertainment, hosting the Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Cleveland Opera, Dance Cleveland and the Ohio Ballet.

The theaters of the Playhouse Square Group are located at 2067 E. 14th St. and 1422, 1501, 1515, and 1621 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland. Free public tours are offered on the first weekend of most months. Tours meet at the State Theatre lobby and leave every 15-minutes from 10:00am to 11:30am. For further information on showtimes visit the website.

 [graphic] Rotating Postcard Images
 [graphic] Link to Transportation Essay  [graphic] Link to Industry Essay
 [graphic] Link to Preservation  Essay
 [graphic] Link to Ethnicity Essay

Canal Home | List of Sites | Maps| Learn More | Itineraries | NR Home | Next Site
Essays: Transportation | Ethnicity| Industry| Preservation

Comments or Questions


[graphic] National Park Service Arrowhead and link to nps.gov