Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Our Wedding Venue: The Valentine Theatre

Nestled in the heart of Downtown Toledo, the historic Valentine Theatre is a place very special to both of us.

Matthew interned there in college, then performed on the Valentine stage in the theatre's production of Guys and Dolls (in 2007) and James performed on the stage in a few productions of The Toledo Repertoire Theatre's “A Christmas Carol.”

Our wedding ceremony took place in the Historic Lobby on the building's original grand staircase, which winds invitingly up to the balcony of the theatre. The lobby features columns refinished in glossy faux marble beneath bright-colored capitals.

Our wedding reception was hosted in the newest part of the Valentine: The Grand Lobby.

Several stories tall, the open space features floor to ceiling windows on one side and an intricate wall mural on the other side. The mural, by Toledo artist Paul Geiger, pays homage to the thousands of performers who appeared on the Valentine stage during its early years (1895 to 1920) and is the largest public painting ever installed in Toledo.

This Toledo Blade archive photo shows The Valentine Theatre's
original entrance on St. Clair Street, circa 1905. 

The History

When it opened on Christmas Day 1895, The Valentine Theatre boasted the largest stage between New York City and Chicago, and showcased the talents of the greatest stars of the era, including Maude Adams, Ethel Barrymore, Sarah Bernhardt and Enrico Caruso.

Built by George Ketcham, the new opera house at the corner of St. Clair and Adams in Downtown Toledo was named in honor of George's late father, Valentine Hicks Ketcham. A hallmark of the Victorian era, the theater was swimming in marble, velvet and silk. Estimates for the cost of the project were around $300,000 (about $6 million today).

After a golden age of performances, the theatre was transformed into a movie house 100 years ago, in 1917. Unable to compete against newer suburban theaters, the Valentine closed its doors in the 1970s.

The Valentine and the building around it were scheduled for the wrecking ball in the 1980s, but was saved by local investors who saw its potential.

While still in a state of disrepair, the WGTE Public Television Channel 30 Auction was hosted live at the Valentine Theatre. Matthew's parents, David and Brenda, volunteered and remember the shabby condition of the theatre.

After a 21-year, $28 million renovation, the 121-year-old, 901-seat theatre re-opened October 9, 1999. Matthew was there for the gala opening. In fact, one of Matthew's major responsibilities when he interned with the theatre was cataloging and assigning sponsored paver bricks outside of the main entrance to the building.

During opening weekend, James toured the renovated venue with his grandmother and used an entire roll of film to capture its revived beauty.

Thank you for joining us in this historic and special location for our wedding where had a chance to create your own memories and be a part of this grand theatre's rich history.

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