Small Business Spotlight: Logan Theater and Community Arts Center

Hocking Hills Banking Center Branch Manager Kati Maple presented a check for $25,000 to Logan
Theater, Inc. Executive Director Sheila Wolfe on Thursday morning.

It’s incredible to see what happens when a community works together toward a common goal. Logan is currently benefiting from a host of people, organizations, businesses and even a children’s chorus working together to give new life to an anchor building in the city’s downtown.

The results will be the Logan Theater and Community Arts Center which will be available in a host of ways. From movies and live performances to meeting space and tutoring for local high school students, this space will live up to its name as a facility that welcomes the community.

Our Hocking Hills Banking Center is thrilled to be a part of this project, donating $25,000 to sponsor the first floor concessions area. Hocking Hills Banking Center Branch Manager Kati Maple said that she is thrilled for the bank to be part of this project. “The revitalization efforts in downtown Logan are so important to the future of our community. This project will give students a safe place to go after school and give our residents and our visitors a place to find entertainment. I am so excited that our bank is able to be a sponsor,” she said.

This building is known by many names – the Chakeres Theater, the Masonic Building, the old Logan Theater – but whatever you call it, the building is structurally sound and spacious with some unique characteristics. Built by the Knights of the Pythias in 1926, the imposing building has a basement and three floors above ground including a first floor theater that has seen Vaudeville acts, singing cowboys and movies of all kinds.

Sammy Davis, Jr. performed on that stage as a child. Even Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger captivated audiences here.

It was part of the Chakeres Theater chain for many years but the theater closed in 1992, leaving what was once a vital community landmark shuttered and at risk. Today, the building is owned by Logan Theater, Inc. a non-profit organization. That group was born from Logan Town Center, the organization that purchased the building aiming to rethink, restore and revitalize it.

Logan Theater, Inc. Executive Director Sheila Wolfe praised the community for working together on this project and said she hopes this will encourage more development in the downtown. “Our community needs this. We need a place to gather and for our young people,” she said. “We hope this will be a catalyst for the downtown and that it will inspire more economic development.”

She said the project has been broken down into three phases.

Phase One
The Logan-Hocking Local School District has partnered with the organization to use the second and third floors. The school district will use the second floor as a tutoring center for high school students. It will provide a safe after-school space for students to come to study and even receive help with their homework. A coffee bar will give the space a relaxed feel.

There will also be an art gallery space for the students, art project space for the community and even a kiln.

The third floor will be home to the Hocking County Children’s Chorus. This permanent home for the chorus will provide an intimate performance space in what was once the Mason’s ceremonial room. Dressing rooms, office space and even much needed storage are just part of the package

A working elevator has been installed to service all floors.

These spaces have large windows that provide natural light to the modern, industrial feeling rooms. This phase of the project was completed earlier this month.

Phase Two
The next step will be to renovate the theater for live performances and movies. Sheila indicated that these plans are still being settled but they know they want to update the technology while maintaining the character of the historic theater.

Phase Three
The basement will be renovated into meeting space and ADA accessible bathrooms.

The estimated cost for the entire project is nearly $3 million. These funds are coming from a combination of private and public sources. They are working to use as many original elements of the building as possible and to be true to the building’s history. For example, some upstairs light fixtures could be salvaged but preserving the old windows was far outside their budget. Instead, they opted to replace the windows with new that look like they came with the building.

Exposed brick, original doors and even the original stage and risers from the Masonic Hall have been lovingly preserved. “We want to respect the history here,” Sheila explained.

“It’s getting so close. When you look at the pictures of before to now, it’s encouraging to see that we have come this far even though we know there is a long way to go before we’re done,” Sheila said. “My favorite phrase is ‘we’ll get there.’ It will happen. We will get there. We just have to keep moving forward and working together.”

The theater which once hosted the likes of Roy Rogers, a host of Vaudeville acts and countless movies will be renovated during phase two.

“We are so very thankful and blessed that we have made it this far. We have a wonderful board, a team that works together for this common goal. We also have incredible sponsors and people who have helped us,” Sheila said.

Sheila credits all those sponsors, the school superintendent and many others for believing in the project early on.

She also credits those who share their pictures and stories from the theater’s past. She said they are especially interested in information about the theater’s early days as they have no images of the theater’s interior during its first years.

Want to support the Logan Theater Renovation Project? You can volunteer your time or services or you can make a monetary donation.

Donate online at www.AppalachianOhio.org/LoganTheater or by sending a check to the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio at P.O. Box 456, Nelsonville, Ohio 45764. Make the check out to Foundation for Appalachian Ohio with “Logan Theater Fund” in the memo line. To become a volunteer or for more information, email info@logantheater.org, call 740.603.7404 or visit them online at www.logantheater.org.

No generous act will be too big or too small.

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