Updated Mon, Feb 24, 2014 3:49 pm
Logan’s Chakeres Theatre Restoration Corporation is working to purchase and eventually restore its namesake back to its former glory of being an operational theater.
“People love to be outside and be entertained, so why not give them both in Hocking County,” said theater restoration vice president Marcia Jeffrey, noting that the Chakeres Theatre is the cornerstone of the historic downtown district.
Originally designed in a classic revival style with 600 seats, Jeffrey said new, modern regulations to the theater will decrease the seat size once renovated.
“When the theater is restored, it will seat about 450 people,” she said.
The Chakeres Theatre Restoration Corporation is a nonprofit group that is attempting to purchase the building at a cost of more than $300,000.
“The first phase of the restoration process it to purchase the building. If every resident in Hocking County donated $15, we would own the theater tomorrow,” Jeffrey said.
While touring the theater on Tuesday, Jeffrey said that the building is made from concrete and steel, which makes it structurally sound. Upon entering the building, one can see the theater’s ticket booth that was once located outside the building during operation is now stored inside.
The theater’s seats are torn and tattered, with peeled paint and broken plaster on the walls and ceiling, yet the original wooden and marble floors appear to be in good shape.
The projectors are still intact and several movie films from the last shows at the theater are present outside the movie theater manager’s office.
The theater’s dressing rooms and backstage area are still intact, as well as the orchestra pit where musicians once played to provide a score for silent films.
Jeffrey said the stage is capable of supporting a triple-curtain setup and a complex lighting grid for live theater. “In addition to films and live theater, the facility could host award programs, chorus concerts and much more,” she said.
“Once the theater is purchased, full restoration will take time and be done in stages,” Jeffrey said. “The idea is to get a portion of the theater operational for live shows and continue the restoration process. There are a lot of grants we can apply for once we own the theater that will help with the restoration.
“Restoring the theater will give the economy a boost and help drive the need for other businesses in the downtown area,” she continued. “When people come to the theater, they may spend additional money locally and want to go out to eat, get gas or explore downtown shops as part of the experience.”
The theater is housed in a four-story building that was built in 1925 as a Masonic Lodge Temple and was known as the Knights of Pythias building. It opened on Nov. 1, 1926, with a double feature of the motion pictures, Jolly Tars and Campus Flirt.
There also was a solo choral performance by Violet Brehm. The theater had many past memorable performances on the stage in its early days, including Sammy Davis Jr., who performed on the main stage as a child; performances by Vaudeville performers, singers and cowboy entertainers; and later movies, according to Jeffrey.
The Knights lost the building during the Great Depression and the Masons bought it sometime later. Phil Chakeres of Springfield leased the theater in 1935, upgraded it, and purchased it in 1948 to be operated along with a chain of 37 other Chakeres Theatres in Ohio and Kentucky.
The theater eventually went out of business in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and is now owned by businessman David Swain. Swain bought the building in 2003 and did extensive repairs, including replacement of the roof, to stop any further decay.
Donations for the purchase of the building can be made by mailing a check to Logan’s Chakeres Theatre Restoration Corporation, 13480 State Route 664 South, Logan, Ohio, 43138, or by donating online at www.logantheater.org.