Historic Preservation Tax Credits to help fund the improvements.
“We call the Palace our workhorse theater,” CAPA President Chad Whittington said. “This will ensure that, for the next 25 years, audiences can continue to enjoy the Palace and the great acts we bring in.”
The most-urgent part of the renovation, replacing the theater’s heating- andairconditioning system, already is underway and should be completed within the next month, Whittington said.
The Palace shared an HVAC system with its sister building, the LeVeque Tower. The LeVeque received a new HVAC system with its recent upgrade, requiring the Palace to also install a new system.
The other major component of the project calls for replacing most of the theater’s seats, most of which are more than 40 years old. Because the new seats would be wider, the theater would lose some of its current 2,827 seats, but the number isn’t yet clear.
“We’ve gotten bigger over time,” said Whittington, referring to the size of Americans as a whole. “We think this is important to the experience of the guests.”
About 500 seats in the theater loge already have been replaced. Those seats have 19 inches of space between the arms, compared with 17½ inches for the older seats.
The theater’s plaster would be repaired, too, and the interior painted to reflect the original 1926 shades. In addition, patterned wallpaper would be restored to parts of some walls.
“This will have a lot of beiges and yellows, a lot closer to the original color theme,” said Todd Bemis, CAPA vice president of operations. Painters applied a sample of the new colors and wallpaper in a corner of the balcony wall a year ago.
Finally, the project calls for remodeling the mezzanine-level men’s bathroom and the concession stand on the mezzanine.
CAPA has spent about $19 million maintaining the theater since taking it over in 1989, Whittington said. But this would mark the first major renovation since the theater reopened in 1980 after being closed for five years.
If CAPA’s fundraising campaign succeeds, Whittington said the theater will close between May and September for the renovation.
If CAPA doesn’t raise the money or receive the historic tax credits, he said, the Palace will remain open, even though CAPA said in its application for the tax credits that the theater would be in danger of closing.
“We’re committed to keeping the Palace open,” Whittington said. “The heating and cooling will still happen, but the other work would have to wait. We really think it’s important to get all this work done. Our goal is to get it done in 2018.”
The Palace — one of three classic Downtown theaters, along with the Ohio and Southern — opened on Nov. 8, 1926, and through the decades has hosted many touring Broadway shows, as well as big names, including Jack Benny, the Marx Brothers, Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Mae West, Michael Feinstein and Bonnie Raitt.
Although the Palace lacks the luxury of the Ohio Theatre and has no resident arts groups as the Ohio and Southern do, Whittington said it serves as a key venue for touring acts.
Last season, the theater hosted 90 shows attended by a total 125,000 visitors, he said.
“There’s a huge amount of diversity at the Palace, a lot of one-night shows,” Whittington said. “It’s something we need in Columbus.”
On the left, the gilt molding and the plaster scrollwork have been restored, a noticeable difference from the peeling paint on the right.