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Rebuild of historic Sandusky State Theatre devastated by storm set to begin

Sandusky State Theater groundbreaking
Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 22, 2022

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Nearly two years ago, severe storms hit Northeast Ohio hard—particularly the Sandusky State Theatre, which had the roof of the building ripped off by strong winds and walls crumbling down. But on Friday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the start of construction to rebuild the theater.

During the storm, the back of the theater was completely destroyed, but the historic chandelier somehow remained untouched.

“The theater crowning jewel, that massive crystal chandelier that hung in the middle of the auditorium, had been untouched by the forces of mother nature," said City Commissioner Dick Brady, who was among several other city leaders participating in the groundbreaking Friday.

That chandelier now going to be one of the centerpieces of the theater's rebuild.

"The chandelier was the last thing left standing so we were very fortunate in that it was kind of a symbol of its time to come back," said the theater's Executive Director Chris Parthemore. "It's right down below us here in a custom-made crate and we're excited to lift it up again once we get open."

While the storms caused tremendous damage, patrons of the theater entering the building after the construction is complete can expect the same sights from before the damage.

"Architecturally, everything will be the same. When you walk back in it'll feel still feel just like the Sandusky State Theatre," Parthemore said. "The colors might be a little more like 1928 than 2018. But it'll be its itself when we open back up. Everybody will have that feeling of familiarity."

What will be different is the back of the building, which will have an additional 20 feet of stage area. That change will allow the theater to host bigger shows and a larger variety of them.

"A little bit of everything, which is what we had before—just a little bigger and better. So national touring concerts, Broadway national tours. We'd like to see a little more Children's Youth Theater. We just partnered with Carol Crane Youth Theatre and we're going to have them in-house and living here," Parthemore said. "So a little bit of everything—old movies, you name it."

Knowing that the storm damage is now a part of the theater's history, bits of the rubble and artifacts from the building will be on display once the theater reopens.

"A lot of the artifacts we have, some of them will be recreated and some of the pieces will get to keep and we'll put some history pieces out on display when we get back opened up," Parthemore said. "Obviously the storm is going to be a big part of our history once we get past it."

Those involved are thankful to the community for supporting them and helping through the times, especially the Erie County Community Foundation, which agreed Friday to make a quarter-million dollar gift to the rebuilding.

"From the night of the storm, the community's outpouring and their support has been just absolutely fantastic and we appreciate their continued support," Parthemore said. "It's going to be a long road to get open, but once we're open we can't wait to be here for them and provide entertainment for the community for a long time."

With construction now set to get underway, Sandusky State Theatre is expected to reopen sometime in 2023.

RELATED: Sandusky State Theater still under repair nearly one year after storm caused massive damage

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