Project File: Creative solutions

July 1, 2003
Ohio University restores the Athena Theater in Athens, Ohio.

Faced with the prospect of losing its only local cinema, a circa-1915 theater, Ohio University, Athens, made a quick decision to buy the theater and save it for students and the community.

Insensitive renovations over the past several decades had diminished the architectural integrity of the building, so the restoration effort included extensive research into the original design.

The refurbished theater restored many of the facility's art-deco accents, while incorporating new interior finishes and seating, acoustical panels, and digital sound and projection systems. The 18,600-square-foot theater has three screens, with seating for about 600.

The $2 million renovation also included installation of a new art-deco chrome marquee, reminiscent of the theater's early palace days. Other highlights include provisions for handicapped accessibility, removal of the facade veneer applied in the 1960s and restoration of the original facade, a new ticket booth, concession stand and restrooms, and a new elevator.

The theater will serve as a commercial film house and a venue for an international film festival. The facility also will host university film and art programs, and lectures. The upper balcony will be available for poetry readings, folk music and community theater.

The architect for this project is Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc. (Dublin, Ohio).

For more information on these projects and others, visit

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