THE SCHADE / OHIO THEATER
Corner of Jackson and West Market Streets
Schade / Ohio Theater (Showing Pershing’s Crusaders ca. 1918). Image courtesy of Sandusky Library Archives Research Center
The Schade Theater opened in 1915, the building which was located on the space occupied a that time by the Alhambra Theater and Bogert jewelry store. Old films were shown in the old Alhambra theater the night before demolition.
The owner was Sanduskian George J. Schade. According to the local newspaper, the Star-Journal, the theater cost an estimated $100,000, a very substantial sum at the time and claimed to be the most beautiful in the state. It was originally called the Schade’s Alhambra but later changed simply to the Schade Theater.The architect was H.C. Milliot and the contractor was Feick and Company of Sandusky. Seating capacity was 700 with a balcony that had an additional 50 seats.
The Schade Theater was the first theater in Sandusky designed and built primarily to show motion pictures. The motion picture industry was still in its infancy—“The Great Train Robbery,” arguably the first motion picture with a plot—had played at Cedar Point in the summer of 1905, only a decade earlier. However, Schade recognized the public’s growing fascination with “moving pictures” and did his best to capitalize on it.
Through the earlier years of the theater, all movies were silent films, until “talkies” replaced the silent film era in the late 1920s.
By 1930 and continuing through the 1960s, the Schade Theater became known as
Warner’s Ohio Theater under the ownership of the Warner Brothers Company. Most Sanduskians referred to it simply as the “Ohio.”
For more than 50 years the theater brought movies and other entertainment to downtown Sandusky. However, the Ohio Theater faced increasing competition from more modern facilities in the 1970s, especially from the new theater complex at the Sandusky Mall in Perkins Township. By the late 1970s the Ohio Theater was operating as an adult theater, and the theater’s name changed again to the Ohio Adult Cinema in 1979. Within the first week the adult theater was open, the Sandusky City Commission called for it to be shut down. Local law enforcement obtained search warrants, raided the business and seied movies. Police charged three employees with pandering obscenity. Following the shut down and a small electrical fire, the theater reopened. In November the cases against two of the three employees were dismissed, and the third received a fine and suspended jail sentence. The theater was back in business. The public outrage continued and in April 1980, following another court case, the owners closed the theater for good.
While the sign in front stays OHIO, the chimney proclaimed the building The Schade Theatre.
The building was eventually razed in 1985 and the lot was used for parking.