133 Ashwood Lane NE,
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Previously operated by: Shea Theatres, Skirball Brothers
Architects: Harry C. Holbrook
Previous Names: Union Opera House, Union Opera House Theatorium
The Union Opera House opened December 15, 1897 ostensibly replacing the Sharp Opera House which had burned November 15, 1893. The venue served New Philadelphia for three consecutive 20-year lease periods which saw it transform from live, legit to full-time motion pictures closing in 1957.
In its live opera house era, Al Jolson and John Philip Sousa graced its stage. The adjoining Reeves Hotel (141 North Broadway) eased plans for traveling shows. Although seen much earlier there, motion pictures became a regular feature for the Union Opera House Theotorium beginning in 1911. Films took over and the venue was renamed the Union Theatre. In March of 1929 it was operated by the Skirball Brothers and the theatre was equipped both with Vitaphone disc-based and Fox Movietone sound systems.
In 1937, in its final 20-year lease cycle the Shea Theatre Circuit hired Columbus architect Harry C. Holbrook to totally redesign the Union Theatre reopening April 9, 1937. The theatre got CinemaScope widescreen projection beginning September 9, 1955 beginning with “Destry” and “Security Risk.” At the end of its 20-year lease, Shea Theatres opted out and the Reeves Hotel decided to demolish the theatre for a parking lot. The last show was a gala event on May 25, 1957 with the fitting title, “Never Say Goodbye”.
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