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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Music Hall Wins Statewide Awards

By Laura A. Hobson

Something old, something new….

Those of you who have visited Music Hall noticed the changes in the exterior and the interior. They are the result of a $145 million renovation which took place between 2016 and 2017, when it reopened in October.

One of the largest transformations in the venue’s 140-year history, the revitalization project brought updates and upgrades in addition to improving the hall’s acoustics and restoring some of the architectural details.

Music Hall - outside view
This massive undertaking resulted in the Preservation Merit Award given by Ohio History Connection on November 10, 2018. Each year, the Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office recognizes outstanding achievements in historic preservation in communities across Ohio. This was one of nine Preservation Merit Awards given in 2018. Judy Williams, historic preservation consultant, suggested MHRC apply for the Preservation Merit Award.

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Burt Logan presented the award to the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC) and the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall (SPMH). Peter E. Koenig, president of SMPH, accepted the award on behalf of MHRC and SPMH. He also serves on the board of MHRC. Koenig is a Hyde Park resident and lawyer who specializes in real estate and land use, including historic preservation. 

Koenig said the fact that Music Hall received a statewide award is significant. The governmental agency that issues the award has high standards. “It’s a competitive process; not everyone wins,” he said. 

Andreas Lange (AIA, Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff + Goettel); Alexis Barnes (3CDC Development Officer); Judith Williams, historic preservation consultant; Peter Koenig, SPMH president, MHRC board member; Thea Tjepkema, SPMH board member, history and archives chair, historic preservationist; Burt Logan, executive director and CEO, Ohio History Connection; Gary Martinez, FAIA, president, Martinez + Johnson Architecture.

Additional recipients of the Preservation Merit Award include:
- Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC); representative Alexis Barnes
- Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff + Goettel (PWWG); lead architect, Andreas Lange
- Martinez + Johnson, (M & J); theater architect; Gary Martinez
- Messer Construction Company
- Judy Williams, historic preservation consultant, who initiated the nomination 
- Thea Tjepkema, SPMH board member; Music Hall historian; Chair, History and Archive Committee

The Preservation Merit Award honors the preservation of Ohio’s prehistory, history, architecture or culture. Logan said, “Music Hall received the award for several reasons. The work restored architectural details that improve the experience for performers and audiences.”

This is the second award Music Hall received in 2018. In October, it was honored with the Historic Theater of the Year award from Heritage Ohio at its annual Preservation and Revitalization Awards Ceremony in Cleveland. This award recognizes successful theater rehabilitations throughout Ohio. 

Heritage Ohio’s Executive Director Joyce Barrett said, “The importance of this rehabilitation has national significance. It is a spectacular place and a stunning example of historic preservation.”

Music Hall Springer Auditorium
SPMH funded $5 million in restoration projects, including Corbett Tower where workers restored the original height of the small hall space to 30 feet. Stenciling was revealed and later updated to its original Beaux Arts style. Three arched tracery windows under the rose window were opened. Workers moved three chandeliers, donated by J. Ralph and Patricia Corbett in 1970, from the lobby to the Tower. Wooden Nickel Antiques restored them.
Milled to match the originals, 14 historic doors were reproduced and placed on Springer Auditorium on all three floors. Dozens of windows on the front façade were opened and restored with wooden windows in historic configurations. The 1970s canopy and handicapped ramp were removed, restoring the front façade. Two elevators make the building handicapped accessible, however.

Five front lobby doors were opened and restored. Doors between the lobby and North and South were opened restoring original circulation. Coffered ceiling rosettes were preserved and repaired. Decorative plaster capitals were restored on columns in the vestibule. 
Koenig said, “This award recognizes the fulfillment of MHRC’s mission to organize and lead the renovation of Music Hall. SPMH did all the cool historic items. We enabled preservation items. It was an extremely complicated project in design and construction. We met regularly to discuss issues that kept cropping up, i.e., skeletal remains in the orchestra pit.” The team wanted to modernize the building, update the infrastructure and keep the historical integrity of the building. 

Music Hall Corbett Tower - picture by Matthew Zory 
Cincinnati Preservation Association presented eleven awards for local preservation excellence at its 54th annual meeting in Corbett Tower at Music Hall.

One of the awards was the Rehabilitation Award, which went to Cincinnati Music Hall. The award highlighted a new roof and mechanical system, energy efficient upgrades, restoration of exterior masonry, reopening of bricked-in window openings, redesigned plaza, restoration of Corbett Tower, and revamping of Springer Auditorium, etc.

Honorees included Music Hall Revitalization Company; Society for the Preservation of Music Hall; Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel; Martinez + Johnson Architecture; Messer Construction Company; Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation; Messer Construction, Gary Millard, senior project executive; Judith B. Williams, historic preservation consultant.

Music Hall - early view
In 2015, Music Hall Revitalization Company received a catalytic award of a $25 million tax credit from Ohio Development Services agency, an extension of the State Historic Preservation Office. It jump started fundraising. 

Going forward, Tjepkema said, “We (SPMH) are continuing to preserve the building.” The organization is looking at restoring sandstone finials. They are further carrying out the mission to improve and use Music Hall. SPMH plans to raise money for these additions. This money will help to continue to bring back the High Victorian Gothic style of Music Hall.
Music Hall has a long and storied history. Built in 1877-1879 by Samuel Hannaford, the venue became a National Historic Landmark in 1975. It has served as home for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet.

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