Bellefontaine, Ohio The Schines Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine is the only Dutch-style atmospheric theater in the United States, and perhaps the only one existing in the world.
Saved by a Sixth Grade Class - Their Story Below
By Perry H. Hodies Photography
"Why Don't We Save it?"
These five amazing words from sixth grader saved Bellefontaine's Historic Holland Theatre. This single historic atmospheric theatre stands out among dozens listed on the National Register of Historical Places and on the rolls of the Theatre Historical Society of America.
Schine Enterprises, a family company that built and operated about 150 theatres in six states, built the Holland Theatre in downtown Bellefontiane, Ohio in 1931. The Schines Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine is the only Dutch-style atmospheric theater in the United States, and perhaps the only one existing in the world. The Holland Theatre not only represents a nostalgic part of Logan County's past, but it also offers new opportunities for its future.
The exterior of the Theatre is attractive rose-colored brick. The stepped, Flemish-style, gable crowning the three story structure gave only a hint of what awaited movie-goers inside. The lobby and main foyer of the Holland introduced the Dutch theme with its hewn timber framed beams, heavy plastered walls, and reproductions of famous Dutch paintings which hung between field-paneled walls.
While 1,400 patrons sat in air-conditioned or heated comfort, they did so as their eyes told them they were outdoors. The interior auditorium was designed as a convincing representation of a 17th century Dutch cityscape. Blooming tulips waved gently in window boxes as two working windmills quietly stirred the air. It looked much like a Hollywood movie set.
The brick and timber-framed facades were careful reproductions, nearly actual sized, of known buildings including the family home of the Holland's architect, Peter Hulsken. Windows in these facades were dimly lit giving the impression that the interiors were illuminated by candlelight. The ceiling was painted a deep blue and tiny lights simulated flickering stars. A cloud machine completed the effect while the largest movie screen in Ohio, 40 feet. filled the stage.
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