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Safety Concerns Keeps Historic Crump Theatre Closed

Crump Theatre

Photo: hartjeff12 (Flickr)

Rehabilitation of the theatre is estimated to cost $11 million.

The Historic Crump Theater in Columbus will stay closed until further notice.

The Crump is one of the first venues where John Mellencamp performed and its 1940s art deco look resembles scenes from the Great Gatsby, but the venue has had major safety issues since the 1920s, but changes were never made.

“Most people in a theatre fire don’t die from the fire they die from asphyxia because of smoke ventilation,” says Van Phillips, President at Jones and Phillips Associates–the theatrical consulting firm the city tasked with making recommendations for repurposing the Crump. “If you think about a stage in an area where the scenery goes up above- you’re looking at a giant fireplace.”               

Phillips is talking about the area above a stage that houses lights, curtains and sets. It would need vents installed and major reconstruction. In total, the company estimates it would cost $11 million.

Columbus Capital Foundation Board member Tracy Souza says the Crump was put into their foundation as a holding place until the community decided what to do with the space. She says from the late 1990s until its closing earlier this year, one passionate community volunteer kept the place up and running.

“She had such a passion and such a love for the Crump that she just, spent her time there. I mean she cleaned it and she made sure the lights were on, and she booked various performances,” she says.

Phillips’s team has recommended the city either rehabilitate Crump or construct a new, smaller venue of 300 to 400 seats to support the local performing arts.

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