A total of $2,200,000 has been raised to date from Cincinnati foundations to help support the renovation of Memorial Hall. The historic building that sits adjacent to Music Hall and Washington Park is currently under construction at a total project cost of approximately $11.2 million.
“We’re very appreciative of the significant private funding from leading Cincinnati foundations, which are generously supporting the renovation of this important historic building,” said Bill Baumann, President of the Cincinnati Memorial Hall Society (CMHS), which has spearheaded the fundraising campaign.
Private funding includes a keystone gift of $1 million, as announced last February, from the Annie W. & Elizabeth M. Anderson Foundation for whom the Memorial Hall Theater will be named; a second $1 million gift from an anonymous Cincinnati foundation; and lead gifts from the H.B., E.W. and F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation, Fifth Third Bank and Narley L. Haley, Co-Trustees; Louis and Louise Nippert Charitable Foundation; The Louise Taft Semple Foundation; Thomas J. Emery Memorial; Wodecroft Foundation; Jacob G. Schmidlapp Trusts, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee; Western & Southern Financial Fund; Robert Gould Foundation; and Maxwell Weaver Foundation.
In addition to the private funding, the renovation is being funded by grants from the State of Ohio, through the Ohio Development Services Agency ($2 million), and Hamilton County ($1.5 million), and tax credit equity from state and Federal historic tax credits and Federal New Markets Tax Credits ($3.88 million combined) secured by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC). In addition, 3CDC is contributing $750,000 in equity and providing a loan to the project through one of its private equity funds, the Cincinnati Equity Fund II (CEF II), to allow construction to begin before fundraising is complete. 3CDC and CMHS are currently in talks with other private foundations about helping to close the approximately $800,000 funding gap.
Twenty-five years have passed since Memorial Hall’s last significant renovation, which was primarily limited to restoration of the decorative elements of the theater. Recognizing the need to renovate and modernize the building, Hamilton County, 3CDC and CMHS joined forces, with the goal of preserving the building and improving audience amenities and production capabilities.
Renovations to the hall will include enhancements to the patron experience, such as new, larger restroom facilities, a new HVAC system to allow the building to be cooled during summer months, and new furniture, including more comfortable seats. Renovations will improve operational aspects of the facility as well, including the addition of a contemporary catering kitchen and backstage crossover space for performers.
Following renovation, the theater will be operated on a day-to-day basis by 3CDC, who will oversee programming and operations in a fashion similar to the successful public spaces at Fountain Square and Washington Park. CMHS will continue as a Board of Trustees overseeing operations and program plans and coordinating the “Friends of Memorial Hall” support group.