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Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre

2014-15 Restoration Projects

The historic Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre 2014-15 Restoration and Rehabilitation project included a total Box Office restoration and the rehabilitation of 3rd floor spaces to create new ADA accessible facilities.

Built in 1895 by the Fraternal Order of the Odd Fellows Lodge, the Ariel was designed by the State of Ohio architects of Packard & Yost in a beautiful Italianate style with two storefronts on street level, a banquet room on the second floor and their lodge room on the third. The Ariel Opera House was in the rear.  The Gallia Masonic Lodge purchased the building in 1919 and in 1930 built an addition to the north of the original structure that included another storefront at street level, a ballroom on second floor, and stage space on third floor. During that construction the facade was changed to reflect the style of the time. In 1987, Lora Lynn Snow took on the project of creating a home for The Ohio Valley Symphony by restoring the theatre portion of the building and re-creating the 1895 gas-light look to the auditorium. In 2005 the Gallia Masonic Company decided to build a new lodge and Ann Carson Dater purchased the entire complex to serve into perpetuity as a permanent home for The Ohio Valley Symphony. By 2010 restoration was completed on the second floor and the newly designated Ariel Chamber Theatre and other third floor areas.

This 2014-15 project, funded with a $100,000 matching grant from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, was used to restore one of the original storefronts that serves as the Ariel’s administrative and box office.  Contractors removed the many additions accrued over the years to uncover the beautiful original tin ceiling and also to create a space that harkens back to 19th century warmth and charm while masking the up-to-date technological equipment.

When entering the box office, the entire original tin ceiling is visible to patrons as the service window and office walls are only 8 feet high and the ceiling is 12-1/2 feet. Gas-look lighting is installed in the ceiling medallions where gas lights once hung. During construction, when the dropped ceiling was removed, decorative glass was discovered above the store windows allowing light to stream in. The woodwork was milled to resemble that found throughout the rest of the building. Newly installed cabinets and countertops allow workers ample space to work on individual and group projects and have room for storage. A beautiful etched glass window with the Ariel logo created by Mike Brumfield of Irvin’s Glass separates two office spaces. Amish workers constructed a specially designed desk for the Executive Director’s office to be made of quarter sawn oak  — as was used throughout by the Ariel’s original builders.

A very important part of the project was the installation of two ADA accessible restrooms on the third floor. This took a great deal of creative design by the architect Jim Thomas and great skill by the contractors to accomplish. Original woodwork was reused as much as possible and the new hardware complements the original, all while meeting all the amenities of today.

“Many people are surprised by the amount of space we have in our facility,” said Ariel founder and Executive Director, Lora Lynn Snow. “There are 25,000 square feet in the Ariel complex and it encompasses three storefronts and the theatre on the ground floor, the Banquet Hall, two parlors and a Ballroom on second floor, and the Ariel Chamber Theatre, Board Room and offices on the third floor. The entire facility is ADA accessible with an up-to-date and 24-hour monitored elevator. The Ariel also boasts the latest in technology with wi-fi throughout the complex. Safety and comfort includes an up-to-date and monitored sprinkler fire suppression system and the facility is fully climate controlled. The facility is ready and equipped for the enjoyment of the community.”