Building Description Moreland Theater Building, Cleveland Ohio

The Moreland Theater Building is a two-story, steel-frame brick theater and commercial building built in 1927. The plan is roughly trapezoidal with a west side extension; the building fills most of the lot. On the facade, tapestry brick walls are combined with limestone facing. The foundation is brick, and the flat roof is a modified bitumen system. There is one brick chimney toward the center. The interior contains approximately 35,553 square feet including the partial basement. In addition to the ornately-decorated theater, there are four stores on the first floor with five office suites and two apartments on the second floor.

Despite some losses, the Moreland Theater Building retains most of its distinctive, character-defining features. The design of the facade clearly delineates the different uses of the building. Above the broad, arched entrance to the theater is an eye-catching variant of a Palladian window with engaged columns, sidelights, and lion's heads. A smaller composition of baroque ornament marks the entrance to the second floor. The storefronts retain their original configuration and most of their original materials, while original 6/1 windows identify the second-story offices. Inside, the layout of the building is largely intact. The theater lobby retains most of its plaster decoration and terrazzo floor. The large theater auditorium retains the majority of its lavish, baroque decoration, including original lamps hanging from brackets shaped like griffins. Dressing rooms below the stage speak to the theater's vaudeville beginnings. Original woodwork, cabinetry, and flooring are found in many of the stores, apartments, and offices. The varnished wood doors and transoms in the offices are especially evocative of the 1920s.

The Moreland Theater Building is located on the east side of Cleveland on Buckeye Road, which was once a long, dense business district composed largely of one- and two-story brick commercial buildings. There are now some gaps in the streetscape, but the buildings immediately to the east and west of the Moreland are extant. Across the street, the three-story, Beaux-Arts Weizer Building is one of the most prominent buildings on the street.

The facade of the Moreland Theater Building faces north to Buckeye Road and is composed of six bays consisting of the theater, second floor entry, and four storefronts in an asymmetrical arrangement. All of the windows on the facade are original. The theater bay (11820 Buckeye) is the largest and most ornate. A broad, flat-topped arch leads into the recessed theater entrance, which is paved with marble. A planter in the center marks the spot where the box office stood. Four pairs of original French doors lead into the theater lobby; the doors and the transom above have been boarded. The crown molding within the entry includes fluted, egg and dart, and bead and reel moldings. The exterior walls surrounding the entrance arch are faced with limestone, and shallow recessed arches with roundels at the top flank the opening. The arches originally held cases for theater posters; the roundels had carved heads in them. By the 1940s the theater entrance had been clad in black architectural glass. By the 1970s the glass had been removed, and the limestone is now coated with plaster. Above the limestone that tops the entrance arch, "Church of God in Christ Inc." has been painted on a band of exposed brick where the marquee was removed sometime after the mid-1970s. On the second story above the theater entry, an expansive variation on a Palladian window is rendered in limestone, with bricks in a woven pattern within the center arch. Engaged columns separate three 6/1 double-hung wood windows in the center from the flanking 6/1 sidelights. The sidelights in turn are flanked by 9/9 double-hung wood windows topped by carved lion's heads. There are two Artstone plaques with lyres on the parapet wall above the Palladian window. The blade sign that projected from the center of the arch is missing, along with a pediment at the roof line behind the blade and a limestone pinnacle on each side. The metal structure that supported the blade remains.

Three bays to the west, the entrance to the second floor (11814 Buckeye) is smaller than the theater entrance but equally ornate. A round arched doorway leads into the recessed entry with red tile floor, brick walls, and plaster ceiling with a copper lantern. There is a single wood door with a window. On the exterior walls, limestone facing surrounds the entrance. Above the entrance, carved limestone entablature is supported by scrolled brackets. The name "Moreland" appears within the frieze. Two urns top the cornice and flank a smaller pair of brackets with grotesque faces that enclose a roundel and support a small arched cornice. On the second story above, limestone facing surrounds a pair of 6/1 double-hung wood windows. Skirting below the windows is decorated with corbels and guttae. The frieze above the windows is decorated with scrolls and guttae. Three small limestone pinnacles that projected above the roof line are gone.

Two large storefronts are located at each end of the facade, with two smaller storefronts in the middle between the theater and the second floor entrance. The storefronts retain their original configuration of kick plate, shop window, and transom. Some of the windows have been boarded, and the transoms have been covered. Three of the storefronts retain their original black tile kick plates; on one storefront (11818 Buckeye) the tile has been covered with wood. The store entrances are paved with red tile, and all retain their original wood doors with windows. Three of the storefronts have one doorway. There are two doors into the westernmost storefront, 11812 and 11810 Buckeye, although historically these both opened into one interior space. There is limestone facing at the ends of the facade and above the storefronts, topped by an Artstone belt course. Above the belt course, the tapestry brick walls are laid in English cross bond. Fifteen 6/1 double-hung wood windows light the offices along the front of the second story. Above the windows is a brick dentil course topped by an Artstone cornice and finally a brick parapet with an Artstone cap. An Artstone turret ornaments the northeast corner.

The east side of the building fronts E. 119th Street. The corner storefront wraps around to the east side with tiled kick plate, shop window (boarded) and transom (covered). There is limestone facing alongside and above the shop windows, topped by an Artstone belt course. Tapestry brick walls above the shop window are laid in English cross bond. Two 8/1 double-hung wood windows light a second-story office and an apartment. Above the windows is a brick dentil course topped by an Artstone cornice and finally a brick parapet with an Artstone cap. This more elaborate treatment continues only to the edge of the shop window. Beyond that (to the south), the tapestry brick wall is laid in common bond with seventh course Flemish headers. On the first story, a fixed single-pane wood window and a door in a rectangular doorway open into the corner store. Two arched doorways open into a stairwell and the theater lobby corridor. On the second story above, five 1/1 double-hung wood windows light the apartment. A final pair of 1/1 double-hung wood windows lights the theater's east fan room; this opening is shown as louvered on the blueprints. Beyond that, an expanse of unbroken wall marks the theater auditorium. Toward the rear are two doorways into the auditorium; one is boarded. High on the wall, an opening filled with metal louvers originally housed a fan.

The rear face of the building rises to the top of the theater's fly gallery. The wall is common brick laid in common bond with seventh course headers. The wall is pierced by one ground floor door located toward the east side. A strip of concrete paving adjoins the rear of the building. A low retaining wall topped by a chain link fence borders the ape area and marks the property line. A vacant lot beyond the fence separates the building from the houses that line E. Street.

The west side of the building faces an alley that separates the theater building from the commercial building next door. The wall is common brick laid in common bond with seventh course headers. On this side, the front (north) section of the building extends westward beyond the theater auditorium. The front section contains no openings on the first story. On the second story, five 1/1 double-hung wood windows open into an incised light court, lighting an office, women's restroom, and apartment. The extension has a south-facing rear wall, which adjoins the one-story theater restrooms on the first story (photo 6). At the juncture, a small fixed window and a bricked-in doorway open into a basement stairwell. On the second story of the south-facing wall, two pair of 1/1 double-hung wood windows and a smaller fixed window light the apartment. In the corner a doorway opens onto the roof of the restrooms. The one-story restroom section has double doors opening into the theater corridor and two boarded window openings. On the theater wall above the restrooms, an opening with metal louvers marks the west fan room. Continuing to the south, there is another boarded window opening on the south wall of the restrooms. On the west wall of the theater, two doors open into the auditorium and one into the backstage area. High on the auditorium wall is a semicircular opening with a fan. The ground along the west side is paved with concrete.

The front doors of the theater open into the lobby, which opens into the foyer, or inner lobby, which leads directly into the auditorium. From the foyer, a corridor extends to the left (east) and right (west). The lobby has a terrazzo floor, marble baseboards, and plaster walls and ceiling. The side wall decorations are identical: at each end is a medallion with bellflower swags and in between are two frames for posters. The architects' drawings show that these are original. The ceiling is coffered around the perimeter and has a central medallion. Portions of the plaster walls and ceiling have been lost due to water damage.

Two square columns mark the transition between lobby and foyer; originally there was a third column in the middle, and doors between the columns separated these spaces. The floor in the foyer and adjoining corridors is concrete; walls are plaster. In the foyer, the plaster ceiling has been lost to water damage, but it remains intact in the corridors. Double plywood doors flanked by windows lead directly from the foyer into the auditorium. The doors and windows were inserted post-1978 into a large, rectangular opening that originally contained a knee wall, allowing people to look into the auditorium. On each side of the doors is an arched opening filled with drywall; these were two of the four entrances into the auditorium. Continuing to the right (west) down the corridor, the south wall has two openings into the auditorium: a rectangular opening with decorative corbels at each end followed by an arched entrance to the auditorium. Studs have been inserted into the rectangular opening, previously the location of the popcorn stand.

On the wall opposite the rectangular opening, a door opens to a steep stairway leading up to the second floor. There are five narrow rooms on the second floor of the theater, with the projection room in the center and a fan room at each end. There is a small lavatory off the projection room, which is lit by a central light court. The building's furnace now occupies the space where the projectors were located; the openings to the auditorium remain in the wall. There is a film storage table in the projection room; a motor generator for motion pictures and a spotlight are stored in adjoining rooms. The original cooling fan apparatus fills the west fan room but has been removed from the east fan room.

Returning to the first floor corridor and continuing west, steps lead down and through an arched opening to the men's and women's restrooms off to the left. The restrooms have been remodeled with new fixtures, but the floor plan with the women's lounge area remains the same. Opposite the restrooms, a door on the right side of the corridor opens into a stairway to the basement. At the west end of the corridor are double exit doors. Returning to the foyer and proceeding to the east, there is a newer doorway on the left (north) that opens into store #1. Just beyond, the corridor has been partitioned, but not to the full height of the ceiling. The rectangular and arched openings into the auditorium, mirroring those in the west corridor, have been filled in. The rectangular opening originally contained a knee wall, and the arched opening was an entrance. At the east end of the corridor, steps lead down to double exit doors. All of the apparent changes to the foyer and corridor, new entrance to the auditorium, closed openings, new door into the store, corridor partition, and remodeled restrooms, date after 1978 when the Church of God in Christ moved into the building.

The theater auditorium remains for the most part one large, undivided space. At the rear of the auditorium, the church installed partitions (post-1978) to create two small offices and two storage areas. The partition walls rise partway to the ceiling and are built on a wooden platform that extends the width of the auditorium. The platform extends beyond the partition walls into the auditorium as a raised seating area above the auditorium floor. A low wall at the edge of the platform is broken by three sets of stairs leading down to the auditorium floor, which is concrete and level. In 1963, when the theater was remodeled as a dinner theater, the seats were removed, the floor was leveled, and the raised seating area was built at the rear. At the front of the auditorium, there are two stepped wooden platforms on each side of the stage, and the original stage floor has been extended outward over the former orchestra pit. Two small offices have been partitioned in the backstage wings. These changes were made by the church after 1978.

The auditorium side walls are identical, abundantly decorated in the baroque style. They remain largely as shown in the architects' drawings except for repainting and places where the plaster has been damaged. Nearest the stage, a niche with a pedestal is topped by a mask and bellflower swags. Next along the wall, an arched entrance to the backstage is flanked by engaged columns topped by lion's head brackets that support a balcony above. Sphinxes flank a shield on the frieze between the brackets. Continuing past the balcony, six small arches are arranged on a diagonal above a latticed area, marking the area where the organ pipes were installed. Next, an arched doorway with double exit doors is flanked by engaged Corinthian columns topped by shields. There is a coat of arms within the arch above the door. Above that, original light fixtures flank decorative brackets that support a broken scroll pediment. The remainder of the wall is decorated with nine arches in groups of three. At each end and between each group, an ornate metal lamp hangs from cast iron brackets shaped like griffins. Lamps and griffins are original. The plaster arches have suffered extensive water damage, but the center group is largely intact. The stained glass windows in two of the arches may date from a later remodeling. The auditorium ceiling is coffered, with chandeliers that may have been installed during the 1963 remodeling.

At the northeast corner of the building, store #1 (11824 Buckeye) was partitioned into four spaces sometime after 1978. There is a stair to the basement in the rear of the store. The floor is terrazzo (covered in places by carpet), and the walls (excepting the new partitions) and ceiling are plaster. Most of the interior woodwork around the doors and display cases remains in place. One of the display cases has etched glass doors. Store #2 (11818 Buckeye) and store #3 (11816 Buckeye) are the two smaller stores located between the theater and second floor entrance. They retain their original configurations. There is a stairway to the basement in the rear of store #2. A door through the west wall of store #3 opens to the basement stairs that serve store #4 as well. The original asphalt floor tiles are visible in places. Store #4 (11812 and 11810 Buckeye), at the northwest corner of the building, was originally one space despite having two front doors. Sometime after the mid-1970s the space was divided down the center. Some of the freestanding square columns in the center of the store are now attached to this center wall. There are some additional partitions in the rear of the store. The floor is vinyl and carpet, and there is a dropped ceiling.

The building has a partial basement divided into three sections by the large unexcavated area beneath the lobby and most of the auditorium. In the front of the building, each store has a cellar with space for storage and utilities, including a toilet. The boiler room is located on the west side beneath the theater restrooms. In the rear of the building, the basement below the stage is accessed from stairs on each end of the backstage area. On the east end of the basement, three dressing rooms still have mirrors and sinks. A small lavatory adjoins the dressing rooms. It was not evident in the dark and cluttered basement whether the orchestra pit and organ chamber remain intact.

The second story of the building is accessed through a small vestibule with marble floor and wainscot; a copper lantern hangs from the plaster ceiling. The interior wood door has a multi-pane window. Stairs to the second floor lead to a narrow corridor running east and west and lit by the central light court that also lights the theater projection room. At the east end of the corridor, a second stairway leads down to an entrance on the east side of the building. Opening north from the corridor are five office suites, four of them with reception rooms. At each end of the corridor is an apartment. There is also a women's rest room at the west end of the corridor and a men's rest room near the east end. On the south side of the corridor there is one additional office and a laundry room. The offices retain their original character to a large degree, particularly evident in numerous doors with varnished woodwork and transoms. Many offices have their original asphalt floor tiles, black or red or a checkered pattern of both. The apartments retain many of their original fixtures, including built-in kitchen and storage cupboards, bathroom tile and fixtures, and gray asphalt floor tiles.