Bringing Back Historic Monroe Theater | News, Sports, Jobs


Let’s set the scene for Saturday, December 2, 1939 in Woodsfield, Ohio at the Monroe Theater. On that date, the theater presented its very first double feature film, with Penny Singleton in “Blondie Meets the Boss”and “The Sub Puppy” with Gloria Jean. According to Glen Fliehman, the manager at the time had established a policy to show many double traits. The standard admission price for adults was $0.15 and for children $0.10.

Where the Monroe Theater stands today, a department store once stood. The department store reportedly closed due to bankruptcy. The theater was later built in 1939 by Mrs. Mena Fliehman, as the Woodsfield Amusement Company. The theater had a “Room to Cry” and “Private Party” Chamber installed during its construction. How incredibly cool is it to know that in 1939 a theater was built that included these rooms? A cry room was available for any mother with children. Mothers could go and enjoy the show themselves without annoying others or interrupting the enjoyment of anyone watching the show. The party room was built to provide a private atmosphere for those who enjoy private parties. In this room they could smoke, be loud, and enjoy the privacy of their own group while the show was observed. Mrs. Fliehman is known to have operated at least three and possibly four theaters in the area at this time.

The Monroe Theater has become well known and admirably affiliated not only with Hollywood celebrities, but also with Nashville stars who later joined the Grand Ole Opry, many of whom were inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Beginning in 1956, the Monroe Theater housed the largest PAN-O–Rama movie screen in the Ohio Valley. This is believed to still be true as of the current date and time in 2022.

If you can only imagine! The Monroe Theater has actually had famous performers walk its stage. Oh, the history the theater holds, of performers such as; Earnest Tubb, Hank Snow, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones and Little Jimmy Dickens.

At a 1946 Frankie “Pee Wee” King Grand Ole Opry Show held at the Monroe Theater, a young woman named Virginia “Ginny” Patterson Hensley, who was only 15 and had dropped out of high school, took the stage. Her mother’s boyfriend was in the group and they had taken Ginny traveling with them that night. This young woman later became known as the all-time famous Patsy Cline.

The Woodsfield area was known as a place to house the tents of Grand Ole Opry talent who came to town on several occasions, where many local artists auditioned for their place in the Grand Ole Opry. It was something like our own and now famous television series “America has talent”.

Around this time, Hank Snow and Hank Williams were touring together, performing as the Hank and Hank Show. However, only Hank Snow performed on the famous stage of the Monroe Theater. Hank Williams unfortunately ended up in jail for drunk and disorderly and never made it to the Monroe for his performance. The only thing that separated the Monroe Theater from the Opry or the Jamboree was simply the fact that the Monroe Theater did not have its own radio station. Don’t hold your breath, because it could still happen. The first Jamboree was held on the Monroe stage on September 12, 1940.

38 years later, with the uprising of video libraries and the addition of many movie theaters to local malls, this brought hardship for the Monroe Theater, forcing it to close. The Monroe simply couldn’t compete with the changes to come in the entertainment industries. The theater was then only used for a short time as an auction house and place for antiques until it was completely closed and its doors were closed.

However, hope for the theater was on the horizon. In June 2016, two generous souls, Gary and Nancy Rubel, then owners of the theater at the time, donated the theater to a non-profit organization known as the Monroe Arts Council. Over the next six months, the council sought out people who might have an interest in possibly restoring the theatre. Meetings were held and committees were formed to advance the restoration of the famous historic theatre.

In January 2017, theater committee members started with goals set by “the seat of our pants,” as President of Operations Mick Schumacher said. They began cleaning, removing debris, installing temporary lighting, working on fundraisers, and learning all about the restoration process they were facing.

In April 2018, they received a grant of $20,000.00. This scholarship was granted to them by the Baker Foundation and will facilitate the first step in the process of carrying out the feasibility study for the theater. They also received a $5,000.00 Rover grant during the same period. During the months of May and June, they were informed that the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio was getting new theater seats and was going to donate old ones via donation to those who requested it. Schumacher made the call and requested the seat. The Palace Theater in turn made the decision to donate 600 seats to the Monroe Theatre.

The Monroe was known to seat 350 people, but the committee was considering building a balcony in the future, so the donation of 600 seats was appreciated. On Memorial Day weekend, a few members got together and made several trips to Columbus to pick up the seats. Once the seats had been obtained, a fundraising idea was considered for the new seats. The fundraiser was open to anyone interested in purchasing a seat in honor, in memory of, in their own name, or even businesses for $200.00, which would include their name on the back of the seats. . This turned out to be a phenomenal benefit for the Monroe Theatre.

In June 2019, the Monroe Theater hosted its first stage performance in 50 years. During Grad Weekend “Backwoods Boogiegrass” took the stage. It was a snap night decision and put in place before the theater was even ready for performances, but the performance got people seated at the Monroe, which turned out to be a success.

At this stage of the game, it was “All or nothing” go forward. The first movie in over 40 years was screened in September 2019. From then until 2021, the Monroe hosted a variety of entertainment events, all free or as free as possible to the community as the theater went live. renovation. This included the very first “Monroe has talent”the theater only had room for this event, with local artist Mike Calovini picking up the win.

In December 2019, the installation of four new ovens began in hopes of continuing with more events and stage shows. Then the inevitable happened and caused a whirlwind of despair. Covid -19 hit the area and shut everything down. What was the Monroe Theater to do? They had come from so far away! Fear not, Stage, Entertainment and Box Office Manager Rick Brown has come to the rescue. After much discussion and many ideas, it was finalized and Brown began streaming live on Facebook during the pandemic.

Unbeknownst to him, this streaming would take off and increase the number of people watching the Monroe Theater. This allowed viewers from as far away as Canada and Norway to connect with the entertainment. This brought more than 6,000 devices to enjoy the live streams, and in turn donations were broadcast to save the disappointment that Covid had caused.

During the remainder of 2020, the Monroe Theater was able to secure $340,000.00 in funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Ohio Capital Budget, as well as various federal, state, and local grants .

Progressing to January 2021, research has begun for early theater performances. March marked the start of the National Registry application process. In May, the concessions and box office were added to the ground floor, and in June 2021, the first Country Music Hall of Fame performer in over 50 years took the stage. In August 2021, the theater was able to be renovated and include two ADA toilets.

2021 brought many artists to the stage, including Phil Dirt and The Dozers, a band from the 50s and 60s that graced the Beach Boys. Also, Jimmy Fortune who in turn imposed the sale of tickets to Nebraska and Wisconsin.

On May 15, 2021, the Monroe Theater hosted the Monroe Theater Country Music Jamboree. Around this time, they inducted their first life member into the Jamboree. This award was for their First Lady of Country Music and was awarded to “Mrs. Sue Emery Williams. During this Jamboree Cole Winland the 2020 winner of “Monroe has talent” carried out. Winland also had a sidekick during her performance that night. His young daughter trotted on stage strumming her little guitar, while bringing smiles to the faces of the audience. Those smiles are the pride of the Monroe Theater and those who work diligently on its renovation.

The Monroe Theater hasn’t stopped and 2022 has an amazing lineup. It may not be as many as the 74 events held in 2021, but its caliber has certainly progressed. Rick Brown said “I saw my first movie at the Monroe in 1977 and I remember the movie well because it was the movie”Baby”. Shortly after, the theater was closed.

He went on to say, “The Monroe Theater is a special place. We’re like family and we want everyone to feel welcome and like family when they walk through those front doors. This theater has come a long way and renovations are underway but there is still a long way to go but “we have faith in what is to come” Schumacher advised. He went on to say “It’s like finding buried treasure in front of the courthouse!”

The Monroe has several avenues they follow with events ranging from performances, bands, auctions, movies, jamborees and more. Just as in the past, opportunities present themselves. Even Monroe County Fairground royalty reached the stage, and Election Day results were shown on the big screen with live election coverage. The number of opportunities offered by the Monroe Theater is endless.

The theater holds showcase after showcase of memorabilia from many past stars. Even the mannequin in the lobby is wearing a quirky 1920s flapper outfit. won’t forget. This group has worked tirelessly day and night to deliver something remarkable to Monroe County.

An array of artists and events were graciously offered to provide enjoyment in a fun, friendly and family-friendly environment. The Monroe Theater and the Monroe Arts Council extend their invitation to come see firsthand what the historic Monroe Theater has to offer. They have a Facebook page you can also click the link from there for Monroe Theater ticket sales. The Monroe Theater comes to life and it’s not something you want to miss. Help save the memories of the historic Monroe Theater.


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