Short North Stage - Columbus, OH
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 39° 59.120 W 083° 00.309
17S E 328798 N 4428054
Quick Description: Originally the Garden Theatre, this place became the home of the Garden Church in 1996 and then the Short North Stage in 2007. It is located in the Short North area of Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Location: Ohio, United States
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 7:32:26 PM
Waymark Code: WMDCAJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 2

Long Description:
"Short North Stage is a new professional theater company that has taken up residence at the historic Garden Theater. This arts/business partnership will drive a renaissance reigniting the commercial district from 3rd Street to 7th Street and bring live theatre back the Short North." "Short North Stage is dedicated to bringing first-class professional theater, emphasizing musicals, to the Short North Arts District. Our home is the historic Garden Theater, which opened in 1920 as a vaudeville and silent movie theater. Multi-phase renovations on the drawing boards will transform it first into a 99-seat house and then into an exciting 299-seat performing venue. Our goal is to grow into a regional, and eventually a national, showcase of music-driven works--celebrating familiar favorites, reinventing less well-known gems, and nurturing new works."

-- Source


"On the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day 1920, the Garden Theatre opened at 1187 North High Street amidst great celebration. Cellist Ferdinand Gardiner played at that day's festive matinee and again with the rest of his piano trio at a gala evening showing. The Garden Theatre was actually both of these things: it was a state-of-the-art movie house with a single screen for showing silent films (and later "talkies"), and it had a sunken garden enclosed with a fragrant boxwood hedge where an orchestra pit would normally have been.

This exotic touch – along with the theater's resplendent pale blue and copper-colored accents and the delicious breezes of what is reputed to be one of the first air-conditioning systems installed in a public theater – must have given the place the feel of Shangri-la. Its sunken garden might also be why some maps of Columbus from the early part of the twentieth century label the current Short North area as the Garden District. And if there were any doubt that the Garden Theatre was the defining landmark of the area, the large, distinctive Garden Theatre sign that went up outside the building in the 1930s certainly erased it.

Time passed, and within two generations of the theater's opening it went from the lap of luxury to the seat of crime. The theater that had shown Westerns and lavish Hollywood musicals in the 1950s became a forum for the viewing and making of pornographic films in the 1970s and 1980s. The university professors and business people who once lived in the apartments that lined the building's High Street side were replaced by prostitutes and drug dealers. The building's facade and interior structure fell dangerously into disrepair.

This downward spiral continued until 1996, when Steve Campbell took over the property. What once housed the Garden Theater is now home to the Garden Church and its ministries for urban youth. And like Phoenix rising from the ashes, the Garden at Fifth and High seems to be coming into bloom again.

Garden Church head pastor Campbell is a man with a past and a passion. A native of southern Kansas, Campbell's acquaintance with street culture in his youth led him to a teen drug center in Philadelphia, where he wound up while on the run from criminals who were out to kill him, and where Campbell says he became a Christian. He made his way back to Kansas, and then Colorado, and had a successful business career in leather and horse goods.

A job transfer to Ohio launched Campbell's career in ministry. Campbell met Pastor Bob Swanger, the founding pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, now Polaris Church, when the two played each other in the finals of a Columbus tennis tournament. He assisted Swanger with his ministry and eventually started his own.

Something of a child of the streets, Campbell has made a life of reaching out to urban people, especially urban youth.

In addition to the non-denominational Christian worship service the Garden Church holds every Sunday, the church operates an outreach ministry for urban children aged four through 11. It also runs a teen ministry program, Urban Revolution (U-Rev), which brings at-risk teens from all over the greater Columbus area to the church for fellowship and educational events.

"The Short North is my home, and I feel the people of the street are my family," Campbell said.

But Campbell says it took a while for things to feel that way. At first, he went door-to-door in some of the Short North's poorest neighborhoods, talking to teens, asking them to come see what the Garden Church had to offer them. Now that the word is out about U-Rev, there is a waiting list for the program.

As Campbell has worked to renovate the souls of the youth who come through his programs, he also has worked to restore the old Garden Theatre building to usable condition. The former theater lobby has been given new paint and carpeting. The balcony is now a game room and home to two foosball tables. The old projection room now houses a circuit of free weights. The apartments, which Campbell says had devolved into filth and decay, have been cleaned and refurbished as tutoring rooms; bright, airy nurseries; colorful children's playrooms; and polished, professional-looking offices. He sees all of this as part of his church's plan of renewal and hope.

"What we do with this building is an example of what God does with our lives, how He takes our burned-out, gutted lives that we've made a mess of and renovates them," Campbell said.

Although the actual theater auditorium remains to be refurbished, Campbell has plans to renovate it when funds are available. And he hopes someday either to restore the vintage sign outside the theater or to replace it with a replica.

"We feel this sign is something of a landmark here," Campbell said. "If I have to replace it, I'd like to do an exact duplicate."

Even if the building is no longer used as a movie theater, the Garden Theatre's opening might well have prefigured Campbell's ministry at the Garden Church. Those celebratory first showings in the Garden Theatre on Thanksgiving Day 1920 featured noted actor Lewis Sargent in a silent film called The Soul of Youth."

-- Source

"In 1996 a small group of committed Christians purchased the infamous Garden Burlesque Theater located in the Short North District of Columbus. The church was originally called The Columbus Worship Center. In 200? the name was changed to The Garden Church. In 2007 the theater properties were sold..."

-- Source

Theater Name: Short North Stage

Country: USA

1175 N High Street
Columbus, OH USA

Web Site: [Web Link]

Venue: Private Theater

Type of Productions:

Restored Building: yes

Date of Construction: 1920

Seating Capacity: 299

Architect/Designer: Not listed

Stage Type: Not listed

Special Productions/Events/Festivals: Not listed

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