enliven history + rejuvenate a masterpiece + build community support

"When people walk into the Akron Civic Theatre they feel they are part of a larger community. We need public structures like the Civic to connect us to one another."

Dr. Mark Auburn, Dean, College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Akron
  • COST

    $13 million

  • SIZE

    2,600 seats


    Master Planning, Historic Renovation, Architecture, Interior Design, Construction Administration

The 2,600-seat Civic Theatre, built in 1929 as the Akron Loew’s Theatre, was designed by the noted theatre architect John Eberson and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of only five remaining Eberson-designed “atmospheric theatres”.

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Wilson Butler Architects initiated the work with a programming study that made recommendations on how to improve the operational aspects of the theatre. This study outlined a pressing need for an improved and expanded stage house, new dressing rooms and upgraded back-of-house spaces. Wilson Butler’s expansion and renovation design for “The Civic” brought back its flamboyant elegance along with a new technical sophistication. To allow new arts programming, the expansion of the theatre includes a bustle, a backside addition to the stage house, updated theater rigging and new acoustical systems.

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A new wing was designed and constructed with improved front-of-house amenities, allowing a new lobby to be carved from within the historic under-balcony space. The details of the lobby sensitively integrate with the existing decorative promenade. The Mezzanine level entices patrons up the grand staircase to enjoy food and beverage concessions, along with a grand view of the lobby.

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The project included the complete renovation of the historic “Moorish Castle Garden” themed interior, restoring the distinctive plaster work and decorative painting. The entire facility was brought up to date with ADA and related modern code compliance, including restrooms, elevators and handicap seating within the Theatre’s historic interior.

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