Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Ohio Theater Closes – September 1971

Fifty years ago, Downtown Lorain probably began its slow, downward spiral with the closing of the Ohio Theater. Above is the article that ran in the Journal on September 2, 1971.

As the article noted, “The Ohio Theater, 549 Broadway, Lorain has added its name to the long list of movie houses where the lights have gone dim.

“Two days ago, Roy Fiedler of 4931 Front St., Vermilion, terminated his lease with Neal Mowery who owns the theater building with his wife. Fiedler had actually closed the theater two weeks before.

“Fiedler, who also operates the Liberty Theater in Vermilion, could not be reached for comment. Mowery has some ideas about why the theater was closing though.

"“There has been a lack of product, TV has hurt and other things. The fellow just couldn’t make his expenses,” Mowery said. “Lorain has three theaters downtown and none are too happy. They’re not making as many movies and anyway downtown is not a drawing card anymore.”

The Journal article notes that August Ilg, Mrs. Mowery’s father, started the Ohio Theater after the city began rebuilding after the Lorain Tornado of 1924. 

After the Ilg family decided to let others try their hand at operating the Ohio Theater, five different managers made an attempt at running it.

A little later in 1971, the Ohio Theater did reopen for a while, showing X-rated films with the result that obscenity charges were brought against the theater manager. But the curtain call for the theater didn’t last long.

Detail from a June 1955 Lorain Journal ad


Anonymous said...

That was a cool arched sign that was mounted over the Ohio Theater.I wonder if it was saved when they closed it up?One of the guys from American Pickers would just love to steal it for a song then quadruple their money back from some collector.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

The Ohio did reopen for a very short final run, from May to July of 1973.I worked there, selling tickets, concessions, whatever was needed, for a little money,free movies and candy, and the chance to ogle the Manager's daughter, Helen,who ran the projector and generally wore a bathing suit to work. Helen,her dad,his business partner Ray, and I were the entire staff. The movies were definitely not first run; indeed, some had already been on tv.
Herr Gallegher pops up in this story, as well-he panned one of the better films we showed, Zeffirelli's BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, about Francis of Assisi.I actually went to the Journal to ask him about it, and found to my dismay that he never saw the film, but sent an intern, and cribbed her notes.
Over the years, I'd spent many pleasant, thrilling hours at the Ohio, watching everything from SNOW WHITE to WILD IN THE STREETS, culminating in a summer as a theater droid, having a good time.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

DAN:I sorta cadged the Journal article and posted it on Facebook, the LORAIN, OHIO BY PHOTOS page; I gave you credit, as always.