History of Akron Civic Theatre

Long recognized among the community’s cultural landmarks, the Akron Civic Theatre has a rich and spectacular history.

It has provided the community with a venue for quality entertainment and live performances for over seventy years.

During that time, hundreds of thousands of people have been thrilled by various theatrical presentations, both on stage and on screen.

The theater was built in 1929 by Marcus Loew and designed by famed theater architect, John Eberson. The interior structure was fashioned after a Moorish castle featuring Mediterranean decor, including medieval carvings, authentic European antiques and Italian alabaster sculptures.

Among facilities of its size, the Civic is one of only five remaining atmospheric theaters in the country where patrons experience a twinkling star-lit sky and intermittent clouds moving across the horizon, all while sitting inside the auditorium.

Designed by John Eberson and built by Marcus Loew in 1929, the Civic Theatre has entertained Akronites for 75 years.

Restoration and Expansion

In June 2001, the Akron Civic Theatre closed its doors for the most comprehensive restoration and expansion project in its history. Over the course of the next sixteen months, just over $19 million was spent bringing the theater up to modern performance and patron standards, and to restoring its failing 70-year old infrastructure.

Following its re-opening in November 2002, the New Civic, along with its partner The University of Akron’s E. J. Thomas Hall, continued to play a significant leadership role in downtown revitalization. In May 2003, the Civic began a partnership with the City of Akron to program and operate Lock 3 Live! a new outdoor performance venue featuring more than 80 events and attractions scheduled between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The success of the Akron Civic Theatre is a testament, particularly during these difficult economic times, to the support of our community and the vision of its leaders. Support for the Civic has come to be understood for what it is - an investment in our community that fuels the economy and drives downtown revitalization by hosting the best in local, national, international entertainment and events.

Behind a restoration and expansion of this magnitude stands a litany of organizations and individuals who have worked diligently in the belief that this project would make the community a better place to live, work and play. This help came locally, regionally and nationally.

We appreciate the support of Summit County and the Summit County Port Authority, with particular appreciation to former Executive Tim Davis, current Executive Jim McCarthy and all the members of County Council. We also thank the State of Ohio, Governor Bob Taft, former Senator Roy Ray, Senator Kevin Coughlin, Representatives Brian Williams and John Widowfield and the entire Summit County delegation, the City of Akron, Mayor Don Plusquellic and all of City Council, the federal program“ Save America’s Treasures,” Congressman Ralph Regula and former Congressman Tom Sawyer. Private sector leadership grants came from the Knight, GAR, Brennan and Corbin Foundations, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, OMNOVA Solutions and FirstEnergy, as well as leadership gifts from many individuals and corporations. The Civic also appreciates the support of Honorary Campaign Co-Chairs Ann and David Brennan and Francia and Fred Albrecht, and Campaign Co-chairs Nancy Brennan and Sean O’Connor.

They, along with over fifty volunteers, continue to work to raise the funds necessary to complete this project.

The restoration of the prescenium arch above the stage.
 
Scaffolding enveloped the Civic's auditorium in the fall of 2002 shortly before its grand reopening.