Following inspections, the Marion Palace Theatre will undergo exterior renovations to the front of the building located at 276 W Center Street in Downtown Marion. A recent building inspection by NCR Engineering showed that the front façade, historic terra cotta, and both vertical and horizontal marquees need attention.
“The building is 85 years old. Due to years of extreme exposure to weather conditions, the brick façade is showing deterioration. Because this wall serves as the support for the two marquees, they will be removed as a precaution,” explained Palace Theatre Executive Director Bev Ford. “Our first concern is the well-being of our patrons and the general public; therefore, we are taking measures recommended by a structural engineer to secure the front of the building and create a protected entrance to the Palace.”
The preliminary step is pedestrian scaffolding, which was recently installed by Midstate Contractors. It runs from the corner of Campbell and Center Streets under the horizontal marquee and beyond by approximately 14 feet. This will create a protected environment for those walking along Center Street and entering the Theatre.
“While the pedestrian scaffolding is not nearly as inviting a look for the front of our beautiful, historic theatre, plans are underway to make it more attractive during the renovation period,” said Ford. “We will work diligently to restore the Palace to its original beauty as quickly as we can.”
With the passageway in place, the Palace will begin the task of securing funds for the removal and replacement of the front façade and both marquees.
Renovation is not new to this historic venue.
The Palace was designed by renowned theatre architect John Eberson and commissioned for construction by V.U. Young. The doors opened on August 30, 1928 to rave reviews of the atmospheric, Moorish design. Originally a Vaudeville house, the Great Depression soon turned the primary function to film; first silent films and then talkies. After changing hands several times, then owner, Bill Hatch, was looking to sell in the seventies.
A group of seven Marion businessmen, later known as the Palace Guard, funded the initial purchase and began a campaign to save the Palace. The results were a new and revitalized Marion Palace Theatre. By July 1976 the doors reopened and the Palace has been home to the performing arts in this central Ohio region ever since.
As in the 70s restoration, the current Board is hoping the community will support this exterior renovation.
“This historic building once again needs the community’s help,” said Board Chair Scott Hoffman. “It is the centerpiece of the renewed Downtown Marion, an economic growth engine, and an icon in the historical theatre world. Renovating and securing the exterior of the Palace will be part of our heritage.”
Original member of the 70s Palace Guard and current PCAA Board member John Keggan shared, “What we did in 1976 was to bring the Palace back to life. While we have maintained the exterior over the last 37 years, it’s now time to plan for something more lasting. I’ve always said, ‘Anything for the Palace.’ Well, now it’s time to do it again!”
Ford summarized, “This Theatre has been in continual operation since the day it opened, save three months in 1976. We are grateful for the opportunity to remain operational throughout this newest process. We look forward to continuing the same great quality of local productions and touring artists during the 2013-14 season. Marion, this is your Palace, and you’ve proven faithful to its existence. And so, we say thank you in advance to all those who will continue to make membership contributions, sponsor events, attend films and live shows and help us get these needed repairs completed. ”
To help restore the Palace, you can send designated contributions to Marion Palace Theatre, 276 W Center St, Marion, OH 43302.