The entrance to the Palace Theatre in Marion, Ohio.
Designed by the great theater architect John Eberson, nicknamed "Opera House John," in 1928, the Marion Palace Theatre was nearly demolished in 1976 save for the efforts of concerned community members who raised money to purchase it. One of 200 theatres John Eberson built, it is now one of only 18 remaining.
Once purchased, the Marion Palace Theatre was listed on the National Historic Register and has been operating continually as a non-profit theatre. The Palace Theatre surrounds its audience with a Moorish architectural courtyard and the feeling of being entertained under twinkling stars and circulating clouds at dusk. A 3/10 Mighty WurliTzer Theatre Pipe Organ, installed in 1976, is another special feature of the theatre.
The Palace Theatre was one of John Eberson's smaller atmospherics (only 1,500 seats), but especially lavish for a town whose population at the time was only 31,000. Financed by a local entrepeneur, it first opened on August 30, 1928, with Keith-Albee vaudeville and the MGM movie, Excess Baggage. Eberson himself attended and presented the owner with a bag of birdseed for the stuffed pigeons that graced the upper regions of the auditorium's Spanish villa decor. A campaign to preserve the Palace Theatre as a community performing arts center began in the early 1970s. The fully restored theatre re-opened July 4th of 1976 with a stage production of the Broadway musical, 1776.
The mail level hallway at the
back of the auditorium.
The theatre was originally designed to be economically sustaining with 5 insert stores and several suites above the lobby. All of this area has now been incorporated into office or meeting rooms for the theatre. The Palace Theatre features a dramatic entrance with a marquee of 560 clear bulbs underneath while another 375 bulbs light up the Palace Theatre sign which rises more than 50 feet above the marquee.
The Palace Theatre has two state appropriations totaling $1.575 million, including a new appropriation of $750,000 in Am. Sub. House Bill 16. Construction of a new addition to the theater was begun in January 2006, which expanded its capacity to offer educational opportunities and a regional meeting space for the community.
The stage of the magnificent Palace Theatre.
There is an unobstructed view of the stage from the balcony. The Palace Theatre was built featuring "every seat with a perfect view." Seating capacity is 1,420. A band of family crests (all fictional) arches the stage proscenium.
The Mighty WurliTzer on the stage
of the magnificent Palace Theatre.
The theater was built with a water wash air-conditioning system when it opened in 1928. This operated until 1998 when it was replaced with a modern geothermal unit. The three story fly loft over the stage allows full "Broadway" play performances, with an internal ramp from street level to bring large vehicles and animals to the stage.
The auditorium as seen from beneath the balcony.
As the cultural home to Marion and the surrounding seven county area, the Palace Theatre is constantly undergoing many updates to enhance our patrons visits. The Palace Theatre stage showcases entertainment from local talent during the annual summer musical to top name performers in the Lively Arts Series each year.
The stage as viewed from the balcony.
The Palace Theatre is also the center of attention to hundreds of school-aged children as they gather to enjoy educational entertainment. Located in the balcony of the historic theatre are the True and Babich Rooms. These areas are home to the Arts Palace, a visual arts program. The Arts Palace includes classes such as Cartooning, Wee Kids Theatre, Gingerbread Houses, and Mime for the Fun of It. Classes have been expanded to include not only children, but youth and adults as well.
These special rooms are also the site where "The Stars" rub shoulders with members of the Palace Marquee Club. The True and Babich Rooms are also available for such events as company meetings, receptions, and smaller scale seminars.
The east side of the majestic Auditorium.
In the picture above, we are looking east at an ornate auditorium adorned in lavish red velvet and walls of unlimited textures and colors decorated in Moorish style to simulate a small Spanish village with a starry sky above. These are the trademarks of an atmospheric theatre which set these incredible movie houses apart from your everyday cinema.
In the photograph above, we see a panorama of the auditorium as viewed from the stage. This picture was stiched together from three shots taken with the camera mounted on a tripod and carefully panned so the images would fit together with little retouching.
In the picture above, we see some of the ornate decorations that adorn the walls of the auditorium. No expense was spared when this grand movie house was built. There are even a number of stuffed pigeons gracing the eves of the surrounding "buildings" as if waiting for a hand-out from passers-by. No detail was overlooked, and the effect is quite stunning.