The Akron Civic Theatre

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Patrons of the arts, whether living or in spirit form, must wear appropriate attire.

“I still have a large list of chores to complete because I died before
I could finish my ‘to do’ list.”

“All is lost. My hope is gone. I am filled with woe.”


“THE CIVIC, I Love This Place!”

The Akron Civic was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 16th, 1973, under the original name, Loew’s Theater.

Known as “The Jewel of Main Street,” the 3,000 seat Akron Civic Theatre is truly the city’s showpiece theatre for the presentation of the cultural arts in Akron. It is built over the Erie Canal.

It is one of five remaining Atmospheric theatres built in the 1920s that brought movie patrons into another world, far from their every day problems, creating the perfect place to watch silent films, “talkies,” stage shows, and other live events.

It was designed to knock patrons’ socks off! Wow!

This beloved city landmark has been completely restored to its 1929 glory, with expanded performance and off the stage improvements, including upgraded technical features and amenities needed for a modern theatre, at the cost of nineteen million dollars. Gulp!

It is quite an example of Mediterranean Italian Renaissance architecture, influenced by Moorish design. The small, multi-colored terra cotta street facade with its large marquee gives no hint to its interior magnificence.

Entering the lobby is like stepping into the interior of a grand Moorish Castle in another time, a time gone-by of spectacular Mediterranean decor, complete with medieval style windows, carvings, ceramic tiling, and “authentic European antiques, and Italian alabaster sculptures.” (Wikipedia)

The magnificently tall, vaulted and coffered ceiling takes the breath away with its intricate, detailed designs, and colored tiles of many shapes some with indentations in the center.

Hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the lobby is the glorious chandelier, with other smaller lights hanging in the front and the back of the lobby.

The auditorium has a grand, impressive entrance that would please both the gentry of the time, and cultural arts enthusiasts throughout the years. The rounded pair of windows on each side of the auditorium entrance are also eye-popping, and blend well with the large entrance display.

Patrons travel up the carpeted central staircase with its ironwork railings, enjoying the eye-feast of the large, rounded entrance, with its pillars, mosaic tile designs on all of its sides, and a green canopy over the hallway with doors to the auditorium. From either end of the hallway, patrons can take staircases to arrive at their seats in the balcony.

Designed as an outdoor Moorish Garden, the auditorium has an expansive blue sky overhead, complete with twinkling stars, and clouds that move across the domed ceiling! On the sides of this garden are the facades of other ornate buildings that attach to the main stage. The extravagantdesign style flows magnificently through it all, down to the decor of the aisle seats.

The grand, full-size Wurlitzer Theater Organ is in working order, and is hidden below the stage. When it is needed for an event, a special lift can be used to bring it up to the stage area.

I can see why the Akron Civic got its nickname, “Jewel of Main Street,” and understand why the people and government of Akron were willing to help pay for its restoration and renovation in 2001.

With its lavish stage, this theatre has showcased all sorts of cultural performances, attracting large and loyal audiences.



The beginning of the theatre began in 1919, as the vision of Akron dance hall owner L. Oscar Black, who called his ambitious project, “The Hippodrome.” He planned to build a 3,000-seat theater, with thirty stores and restaurants located in its arcade.

He was able to attract investors to support the project, and used these funds in the construction of the lobby and the partial building of the theater itself. Unfortunately, his investors dropped their support in 1921, bankrupting Black’s dreams. However, all was not lost.

Meanwhile, movie theater Mogul Marcus Loew was in the process of building his eleven movie houses. In 1925, he came to Akron and got his first glimpse of the unfinished, woebegone theatre, all boarded up.

He was impressed with all the available space, big enough to build an Atmospheric theater, which would outshine all of the growing competition.

At the Sheriff’s auction, Loew bought the abandoned property, and some land nearby, spending 143,000 dollars, which was quite a chunk of change in 1928.

Wanting to create the best movie palace, Loew hired a talented architect, John Eberson, who excelled at creating Atmospheric movie theaters that literally “overwhelmed the senses.”

Eberson didn’t disappoint, creating in the lobby the eye-popping interior of a Moorish Castle, and in the auditorium, an outside Moorish Garden.

It opened on April 20th, 1929, to the awe of soon-to-be forever patrons.

Throughout the 20th Century, the theatre was never abandoned, as someone always came to its rescue when misfortunes of owners forced them to sell it.

From 1929 through 1964, it was known as Loew’s Theatre, a movie house that began to offer stage events as well. In 1964, it was sold to the Kelly Operating Company, who changed the theater’s name to the Cinema Theatre, and leased it out to different groups (for both films and live performances) until 1966, when it was bought by the Akron Jaycees. The Jaycees reintroduced stage performances in a big way, from bands, to comics, to stage plays, just to name a few.

In June of 2001, the theatre was temporarily closed. Boatloads of money had been raised to give the most expensive restoration of the theatre’s seventy-two-year-old infrastructure and to instigate the most modern expansion and technical renovations that had ever been attempted here.

When the Akron Civic reopened in November of 2022, it had been turned into a state-of-the-art theatre that could handle any event in the cultural arts world.

Expansions done included additional restrooms, new concession stands, and bigger lobbies. The stage was expanded from twenty-six feet to forty feet to accommodate larger events and stage performances. Dressing rooms located under the stage were redone.

More handicapped seating and a new elevator were added to allow easy access for physically-challenged patrons.

Also added to the Civic was a new roof, “a freight elevator, a new loading dock, and a cross-over space behind the stage’s back wall.” (
Technical upgrades included modern sound and lighting systems.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning were replaced and brought up to code, along with modernizing all the plumbing and electrical systems.

Since The Akron Civic reopened, its schedule has been full with all kinds of offerings in the arts. To encourage local talent, a new performance venue, Knights Civic Stage, was built right next to the Akron Civic theatre’s facade on S. Main Street.

It is not surprising that the Akron Civic has become the financial anchor for the Akron downtown, inspiring an economic revitalization as it draws folks downtown from the suburbs, as well as people from other areas and states.


There are four resident spirits who have made personal appearances in The Akron Civic. Spirit people who are attached to the Akron Civic are very pleased with the revitalized theatre. Some spirits continue to try to help and support. Another spirit has found the perfect place to grieve.


Owners, managers and engineers of theaters who have a passion for their jobs, sometimes plan to continue their duties as spirits in their afterlives.

Boulder Theater, CO (Manager George loved his job here, but died in a freak accident when he was trying to fix a ceiling light. His spirit continued to try to be helpful, managing the living workers, scaring away thieves and pitching in to do some of the work. The new theatre cafe was named after him, which encouraged him to help more there).

Hollywood Pantages Theatre, CA (The spirit of Alexander Pantages has very seriously taken up the role of the guardian presence. He keeps a fatherly eye on the living on the main floor, probably like he used to do while alive, being the owner of his theatres).

Easton’s State Center of the Arts, PA (The dedicated spirit of a former theatre manager became its guardian, with patience and perseverance. During renovations, this spirit again went all out to encourage everyone).

Akron Civic Theatre, OH (Manager or Engineer) Paul Steeg helped open the theater in 1929, and worked there until his death in 1972. His dedication to the theatre continues in active ways in his afterlife as a spirit).


Sometimes dedicated employees don’t want to retire and choose to continue on in spirit form, especially if they died on the job.

The Lake Hotel, WY (The spirit of a former porter still helps guests with their luggage before disappearing).

Cleveland Grays Armory Museum, OH (The spirit of a long-time caretaker who died suddenly here still makes his rounds doing his job, not quite ready to retire).

S.K. Pierce Mansion, MA (Nanny Maddie Cornwall is finding new jobs to do as a spirit, feeling good about using her power doing positive things).

Akron Civic Theatre, OH (The spirit of Fred the janitor, who was a life-long employee of the theatre since 1929, died on the job. His spirit is feisty when people disrespect his theatre).


Patrons who love to come to their favorite theatre’s shows and films, often will continue to be spectral enthusiasts who still support it with their presences in their afterlives.

Cincinnati Music Hall, OH (Spirits love to appear in their finest as they attend the concerts and performances here, which helps them calm their restlessness).

The Paramount Theatre, TX (They are a gentle group who act like polite guests who just don’t pay for their seats).

Kansas City Music Hall, MO (Most spirits who enjoy this space are model spectral guests, except for one self-entitled spectral gentleman. This well-dressed male spirit with a top hat thinks that his favorite seat is just for him. If a living patron is sitting there, he will simply sit on top of this ticket holder, giving the unfortunate patron a cold lap).

Akron Civic Theatre, OH (The spirit of a dressed-up gentleman likes to watch all stage performances).


Spirits who are attached to open land, will often make themselves at home in any new building constructed there.

Willard Library, IN (The spirit of a woman who drowned in the creek nearby, long ago before the library was built, has moved into the library, and tries to be helpful).

Kolb Ridge Court, GA (This exclusive housing development was built upon a Civil War battlefield. Consequently spirits of soldiers who died here and have bonded to the land, have been seen by homeowners as they walk through their homes. One spirit decided to stay in a home, getting his chuckles at the expense of the homeowners).

Capitol Records Building, TN (The Jacob Schnell Mansion which ws falling apart, was sold to Capitol Records who tore it down, and built their eleven story office building. Ten floors were leased to other businesses, while the eleventh floor housed their own headquarters. The gentle spirits of Schnell’s elderly daughters had bonded to the land, and moved up to the eleventh floor to share the space with Capitol Records).

Akron Civic Theatre, OH (Years before the Akron Civic was built, a young woman drowned herself in the canal, but found that killing herself gave her no relief from her emotional pain. When the theatre was built over the canal where she died, she moved into the area where the dressing rooms were located, giving her two places to mourn, one outside and one inside).



The Spirit of Paul Steeg

He is a cheerful, can-do spirit, continuing to be seen all over the theatre doing his duties with enthusiasm.

People who knew him while he was alive, saw him in person soon after he died.

He had always said that he would come back and continue his work here.

Does His Best

Paul’s presence has been seen in the projection booth, back stage areas, in the lobby, and also just outside the theater door, waiting to greet patrons which he would’ve done if he could stay visible long enough to do so.

He would like to troubleshoot problems, but as he can’t in spirit-form, he may give the living manager his support as an unseen presence.

The Spirit of Jeff

Jeff is another lifelong employee of the theatre, who died on the job.

He worked as the janitor, responsible for keeping everything clean and orderly.

He is also a security guard who looks after areas under his responsibility.

Don’t Do It!

The Spirit of Jeff keeps a close eye on rambunctious youth participating in events in the auditorium, and does his best to scare them if they start any Tomfoolery in his bathrooms, or partake in other youthful mischief elsewhere.

When his spirit catches disrespectful people in the bathroom or anywhere else, he will sometimes chase or attack them.

Showing Support for the Arts

The spirit of a former male patron comes to see the performances on stage, wearing his finest suit with coattails and top hat.

His apparition looks like a living person, until he disappears.

He has been seen sitting in the balcony, enjoying whatever show or event is being performed on stage.

The Spirit of the Woman

She appears as a woman wearing 19th Century clothes, a dress and high-laced shoes.

Both outside by the canal, and inside her favorite dressing room, she has been heard crying, and has appeared in front of people as well.

She makes people feel uncomfortable if they enter her special place, as she wants her privacy to mourn.


Over the years, patrons, staff, owners, and performers have had many experiences with the spirits who reside here.

A few paranormal investigating groups have come inside to get hard evidence of the spirits, and haven’t been disappointed.



Yes Indeed!

Three gung-ho spirits still love the Akron Civic and have chosen to still enjoy it in their own ways.

One mournful female spirit needs some counseling from a medium so she can go to the light to be in a happier space.



182 S. Main Street
Akron, Ohio

The theatre’s facade sits right on S. Main Street, with the new Knights Civic Stage on its left. Connected to the facade, a long hallway with display windows leads to the doorways of the large theatre lobby, on land located behind S. Main Street.


  • Photos taken by Tom Carr




Ghosts of The Akron Civic Theater

The Akron Civic Theater and the Legend of the Crying Women. ( Haunted Akron episode #4 )

Akron Civic Theatre – Minutes Within The Mist

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