Work To Begin Soon On Over-The-Rhine Landmark

May 21, 2015

Memorial Hall is often overshadowed by its larger neighbor, Music Hall.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Memorial Hall can sometimes be overshadowed by Music Hall.  But like its larger next-door neighbor in Over-the-Rhine, the performance space is also about to be updated.

Work on the renovation and expansion of Memorial Hall starts this summer.  3CDC is overseeing the work. Spokesperson Anastasia Mileham says the heating and cooling system will be upgraded, theater seats will be replaced, and an extension will be added to create a backstage area.

“It is a neat building when you look at it from the outside, with the columns and the stature of it," says Mileham.  "And I think every building that we bring back into use in this neighborhood adds to the historic character of the neighborhood and adds to the activity going on.”

In the last year, there was a public effort to find money to save Music Hall, with discussions about including it in a sales tax measure.  But Mileham says Memorial Hall deserves to be saved too.

“It’s a very different structure than Music Hall.  You know Music Hall as a 3,000-plus seat theater with ballrooms and meeting spaces.  And Memorial Hall serves a different sort of population.  It’s a 600 seat theater with some great before and after venue spaces.  It’s a more intimate feeling.”

Mileham says Memorial Hall was built more than 100 years ago, and was built to last.  But she says it also needs to be brought into the 21st century.

“One of the reasons this is such an appealing project to 3CDC (is) we’re in the business of preserving historic structures and saving buildings.  And this one has meant a lot to the neighborhood since 1900, and I think it can continue to really serve the neighborhood and the surrounding community.”

Hamilton County owns Memorial Hall, and will retain ownership.  The Cincinnati Memorial Hall Society will act as a board of trustees.  3CDC will be in charge of leasing the space and providing programming like it does with Fountain Square and Washington Park.

The work is out for bid right now and construction is expected to start in late June or early July.  Mileham says Memorial Hall should re-open next summer.