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Performing Arts Center

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Gund Foundation Makes $3 Million Commitment to Playhouse Square Campaign; Historic Ohio Theatre Lobby to be restored

Mar 16, 2015

Cleveland, OH – The George Gund Foundation has made a $3 million commitment to Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square. This gift is designated to support the restoration of the historic Ohio Theatre Lobby, the only one yet to be restored, to its original 1921 splendor. In recognition of the foundation’s generosity, the lobby will be renamed the “George Gund Foundation Lobby.”

“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 first of the five historic Playhouse Square theaters to be restored, the Ohio Theatre was badly damaged by fire in 1964. During its early 1980s’ renovation, funding and time would not allow both the auditorium and lobby to be fully refurbished. While the auditorium was restored, a simple, contemporary design was created for the lobby.

The current lobby walls will be torn down to expose the original structure this July. Scaffolding will be erected so the theater can remain open during the renovation, which will include ornamentation sculpted by hand, the re-creation of murals and 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.

More information about Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square is available at playhousesquare.org/legacy.

More information about the history of Playhouse Square and its impact on the city is available at playhousesquare.org/history.