Emery Center Corporation
100 East Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Completed in 1911, the Emery Theatre/former Ohio Mechanic’s Institute-College of Applied Science (OMI-CAS) Building has a distinguished heritage, having been endowed by philanthropist Mary Emery and designed by architects Samuel Hannaford & Sons. The Emery Theatre has the highest quality acoustics and was compared to Carnegie Hall by the renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski. This nearly flawless concert hall was the home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1912 to 1936.
Many Broadway stars and world-renowned performing artists have appeared on the Emery stage, including Russian ballet dancers Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova, actresses Bette Davis and Katherine Cornell, and composers John Philip Sousa and George Gershwin, who played his famous "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra here shortly after premiering it at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The Emery Theatre/former OMI-CAS Building came under the ownership of the University of Cincinnati in 1969. When OMI-CAS moved to its new Edgecliff Campus in 1988, the building sat vacant, and the theatre was operated for a decade by the American Theatre Organ Society. The Emery Center Corporation (ECC) was created in 1988 to promote the restoration and sustainable operation of the Emery Theatre.
While restoration of the theatre was delayed, the rest of the complex was redeveloped in 1999-2001, with 59 units of market-rate housing, interior parking, and commercial office and retail space. The $9.7 million project included exterior renovation and interior stabilization of the theatre. The complex is leased long-term (40 + 40 years) to the Emery Center Apartments LP (ECALP), and the ECC holds a sublease for the theatre.
Cincinnati has pent-up demand for a mid-sized theater. The Emery will have 1600 seats, as compared with 3400 in Music Hall, 2700 in the Aronoff, 2400 at the Taft, and 900 at CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. Cincinnati needs a hall for mid-sized audiences to complement our other performing venues. Cincinnatians drive to other cities in our region such as Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis, Lexington, and Dayton to enjoy entertainers who skip Cincinnati for lack of a suitable venue for their touring shows.
• Proscenium: 54 feet wide, 45 feet high at the top of the arch
• Stage depth: 35 feet deep, could be expanded to 60 feet
• Stage loft: 72 feet high
• Wing space: 15 feet wide (both sides)
• Rigging: New counterweight system needed
• Gym: 54 X 80 feet (for rehearsals and events)
Open to the Public
The Emery is scheduled to be open to the public one night only this year. On November 23, the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards will be held in the Emery and all bar proceeds will be given to Save the Emery. Tickets are required and can be purchased at http://cea.citybeat.com/ This event is happening with a temporary certificate of occupancy. Stop in to enjoy the award show and take a look around. Then buy a drink and tip heavily! There is more work to be done.
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Emery Center Status as of December 21, 2001
As a supporter of the effort to restore the Emery, we want
to bring you up to date on our progress. Our long-range goal
remains an $18 million renovation to upgrade the Emery with
up-to-date theater equipment and HVAC systems, dressing rooms,
rehearsal space, expanded lobby, and a deeper stage and orchestra
pit to enable full-scale productions, such as the Cincinnati
in order to reach this goal, the non-profit Emery Center Corporation
(ECC) has adopted a phased approach. Phase 1, a $1 million
exterior restoration, is complete. Phase 11, estimated at
$4.5 million, will provide an up-to-date theater with 700
seats at the orchestra level. The ECC plans to complete Phase
11 by the end of 2004. Future phases will expand the stage
and create a new lobby.
Over $650,000 in stabilization work on the theater was completed
this year, including a sprinkler system, a new boiler, abatement
and removal of the old boiler stack from the stage. This work
was made possible by the University of Cincinnati, the Greater
Cincinnati Foundation and private donors.
The ECC is now raising funds for Phase 11. To achieve the
$4.5 million goal, the ECC envisions a public-private partnership,
including $1 million in state funds, $.5 million in city funds,
nearly $1 million in historic tax credit financing, and the
remaining $2 million from private corporations, foundations
All 59 apartments in the contiguous former OMI-College of
Applied Science Building are occupied except one. In the future,
the apartments will contribute $50,000 per year in revenue
for the theater.
As a supporter of the arts, you understand that Cincinnati
needs a mid-sized theatre, like every other city with a well-rounded
arts program. Music Hall and the Aronoff's Procter & Gamble
Hall are too big and Memorial Hall and Jarson Kaplan Theater
are too small for many groups. The Emery Theatre will fill
that niche and benefit the entire region.