The historic Athena Theater was purchased by Ohio University in 1999. The university sought to preserve a venue for student entertainment, recognizing that the theater could provide a downtown activity for students.
A family-owned theater until 1966, it traded hands several times. The elegant art-deco theater was repeatedly remodeled, with a series of new marquees CAPACITY533COST PER SQ FT$96.83FEATURED IN2002 Architectural Portfolio insensitive facade treatments that diminished the facility’s architectural heritage and integrity.
The theater seats about 600 in three screening areas. The facility will be used as a commercial film house, a venue for an International Film Festival, and as a lab for university film and art programs and lectures. The upper balcony provides an intimate setting for literary readings, small musical performances and community theater.
Highlights of the restoration:
- A new chrome marquee reminiscent of the theater’s original art deco marquee.
- New mechanical/electrical and life-safety systems.
- Provisions for accessibility.
- Removal of the facade veneer applied in the 1960s, and restoration of the original facade.
- New ticket booth, concession stand and restroom.
- New interior finishes and seating.
- New acoustical treatments.
- Digital sound and projection systems.
- A new elevator.