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Newly discovered photos show Holland Theatre before its opening

Project to restore ceiling progressing

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Members of the Holland Theatre board of directors look at a hole in the ceiling, which marks the beginning of an $87,000 project to restore the ceiling to its original condition. Work on the plaster restoration is being done by Durable Restoration, which has done numerous historic preservation projects throughout the eastern United States. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

Editor's note: This is a corrected version of this story

Plans to chip away paint along the upper ends of the Holland Theatre’s main lobby — among other details — have changed significantly after the local community came into several original photos from just before the historic theater opened for business 82 years ago.

Building committee member Myra Failor presented approximately 10 photos to the Holland Theatre board at its Monday evening meeting, which also included discussion on the project to restore the interior ceiling.

Ms. Failor said she learned of the existence of the photos during a conversation with Jessica Scherer, development director for Tiffin’s Ritz Theatre.

An active volunteer there, Joe Bryner, obtained them from a friend who bought them at an auction from the heirs of the original builder Hossler Construction, which also built theaters in Tiffin, Kenton and numerous other locations, Ms. Failor said.

Schine Enterprises, a family company that built and operated about 150 theaters in six states including the Holland, had hired a professional photographer to shoot photos of all their work for a portfolio, Ms. Failor said. Mr. Bryner eventually came into possession of the photos from the theaters around this area and wanted to find suitable homes for them.

The black and white photos show not only the exterior with the words “It Won’t Be Long Now” on the marquee, but interior shots that show the original painting of the main lobby, the backdrop for the stage, the curtain that featured a rising sun design and several other details about the building.

“We thought there might be a garden scene behind there, so I was chipping off the paint to discover what was there,” Ms. Failor said. “We have it all right now.”

The painting is actually two windmills flanked by groves of trees and surrounded by a cloudy sky.

Board member Kris Swisher said the board would find a suitable way to store and display the photos and use them for reference as the theater restoration continues.

The board then toured the interior of the theater, which is closed to the public until May as part of an $87,000 project to repair water damage and paint the interior ceiling progresses.

Currently, Durable Restoration has installed scaffolding and a large lift and has torn out one large section of damaged plaster. Their work, expected to cost about $50,000, should be complete within the month. As restoration progresses, Spectrum Painting will begin restoring the original paint scheme, which was lighter blue, Mrs. Swisher said.

Recent donations totalling nearly $5,800 in the name of board vice president Natalie Comer, who died Jan. 23, have boosted the total donations to nearly the point of breaking even, but further donations for stars to dot the ceiling still are being accepted, Mrs. Swisher said.

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These photos of photographs provided by Joe Bryner — depicting the Holland Theatre before its opening night in 1931, front page; the backdrop for the stage, above; and the rising sun design on the curtain, below; — were presented to the theater board at its Monday meeting.

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(EXAMINER PHOTOS | REUBEN MEES)

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The main lobby of the Holland Theatre is shown prior to the theater’s opening 82 years ago in this photo of a photograph provided to the Holland Theatre Board of Directors by Joe Bryner of Tiffin.

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