During my tour of the Ohio Theatre a couple of weeks ago, I learned that the Ohio Theatre, designed and built by architect, Thomas Lamb, was built in the Spanish Baroque style. (Palace Theatre was French, Ohio Theatre was Spanish – very multi-cultural). Our docent went on to explain that that style was heavily influenced by Islamic art because not only were many of the workers in Spain Moorish themselves, but Moors played a large role in designing and building much of the architecture seen all around the Iberian Peninsula, i.e. Spain and Portugal.
A couple of years ago, I traveled to Spain and Morocco. During my trip, I spent a few days in Granada and had the great fortune of visiting the Alhambra which houses the Palacios Nazaries, or Nasrid Palace. While the Ohio Theatre seems like child’s play in comparison to the overall size and amazingly intricate work within the Nasrid Palace, there are definite similarities in the styles. Take a look.
This picture is at the top level within the Ohio Theatre – the lounge area behind the rear balcony. I’d like to draw your attention to the archway on the left. Notice the rounded corners as well as the point at the top? It’s beautiful, don’t you think?
Here it is again. To my left, is the door that takes patrons to their seats up in the balcony. Take a look again at the details within the corners as well as the pointed sections in the top. The very top of this is obscured by one of the lamps, but it’s there.
Now take a look at the general shape of this archway of the Nasrid Palace that leads out to one of the courtyards. Do you see the similarities? It has the same rounded corners as well as the point at the top. Clearly I’m not an architect, so I’m unable to give you actual – and technical – architectural terms, but though our theatre’s archway is a bit flatter at the top (though overall the archway below is definitely much larger), they both contain the same basic elements.
This next picture is of an artistic element located to the right of the door that leads patrons to their seats in the rear balcony. This is another example of a well-defined, Islamic arch. You can see the rounded corner with the curves that lead up to a pointed top. It also contains some additional decorative touches around the arch itself.
Now look at this beautiful wall niche within the Nasrid Palace. This kind of detail can never be matched because nobody makes this kind of building any more. They just don’t, but the same general shape that we see above in the Ohio Theatre is the same as what is seen here. Pretty cool, huh?
I think it’s pretty safe to say that Ohio Theatre architect, Thomas Lamb, definitely knew what he was doing. There are plenty of other similarities as well: the decor inside, the wood work, the ceilings, etc. It’s absolutely beautiful, our Ohio Theatre, so don’t pass up an opportunity to see a concert and check it out for yourself.
Of course, if you ever get the opportunity to see the original – the Nasrid Palace within the Alhambra – you shouldn’t pass that up either!
UPDATE: As of August 7, 2013 – I’ve been advised by the CAPA tour office that one additional tour date has been added thanks to an enthusiastic response to this past weekend’s article in the Columbus dispatch about the Ohio Theatre’s very own Clark Wilson! August 17th is all booked, but August 24th is now available for folks still interested in taking a tour. Click here to learn more and to sign up – reservations are definitely required! (Trust me – it’s worth it!)
Earlier this summer, I learned about Ohio Theatre tours that were being offered, so I signed up for one this past Saturday. Along with about 150 other people, I spent about an hour learning about the history and architecture of this beautiful theatre. After the tour itself, we were treated to a performance of the resident organist, Clark Wilson. While the docents gave us a tour of the theatre and Mr. Wilson gave us a tour of the “Mighty Morton” organ which was the original organ installed in the Ohio Theatre back in 1928!
Built in the late 1920s and officially opened on St. Patrick’s Day 1928, the Ohio Theatre was originally built to be a combination house which means that it was built for both the silent movies and vaudeville performances. Because of that, we were told that the Ohio Theatre theatre therefore has both dressing rooms in the back and an orchestra pit in front. Though we didn’t see anything we couldn’t normally see on a performance night (except for the lounge area of the men’s restroom), we did get to see everything with far fewer people around and had free rein with our cameras, so that was nice!
Built in a Spanish baroque style, it was designed by the same architect, Thomas Lamb, who build Madison Square Garden in New York city as well as our own Palace Theatre here in Columbus.
1 : a college or university teacher or lecturer
2 : a person who leads guided tours especially through a museum or art gallery
Breaking into about six tour groups, we each had a docent who guided us around the seating and lobby areas of the theatre itself. in the picture below is our docent. I feel bad, I missed her name, so if anyone seeing this knows her, would you please tell her I thought she was absolutely great? She knew so much about the theatre and at one point, told us she could probably go on and on for hours. I don’t know about the others, but for my part, I could have listened for hours!
I mentioned earlier that this was originally going to show silent films – the Ohio Theatre has the orchestra pit for the Orchestra and also a great pipe organ to help set the mood in the silent pictures. Of course, the Jazz Singer then came out…not so many silent pictures after that, I suppose! She did mention that she thought it was a little bit funny to put so much detail in something like the ceilings and such for a theatre that was going to be dark most of the time. She definitely raised a good point. That’s OK – I’m fine walking into a gorgeous theatre like this!
Our docent told us about how the Spanish style of architecture reflects the Spanish love of gold. Heck – they brought enough of it back from the New World, so it worked its way into the architecture as well. Look at the detail above in this picture of the Mezzanine lobby area. Gorgeous!
Have you ever taken a tour of the Ohio Theatre? What did you think? Someday, I’d love to get a behind the scenes / backstage tour as well. In the meantime, I took lots more pictures, so I’ll post more of them a little bit at a time. I also managed to get a little video of Mr. Wilson playing the Mighty Morton organ, too. Can’t wait to share that!
P.S. There’s one more tour available on August 17. I didn’t get my first choice date (I asked at the last minute though) so I’m not sure if it’s booked up yet. Here’s the link which has the Email address to which you can sign up as reservations are required. Shoot them an Email – Anna in the office there is super helpful and will be glad to help you out! HMB Aug 7, 2013 update: August 17 is booked, but August 24th has been added!