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Restoring an Icon: The Society for the Preservation of Music Hall


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It is impossible to discuss the detailed renovation of Music Hall without mentioning the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall. SPMH is a volunteer organization “dedicated to preserving and promoting Cincinnati’s historic Music Hall,” and while their great work often happens quietly, it has an enormous impact. This month we are delighted to shine a spotlight on SPMH’s role in this renovation.

A few examples of areas that SPMH has impacted during the renovation:

• Restoring newly discovered historic windows on the Balcony and Gallery levels
• Restoring Music Hall façade details such as finials (decorative ornaments) and black brick staining
• Overseeing the massive restoration of Corbett Tower:

—Realizing original paint colors
—Uncovering and restoring historic stenciling
—Relocating three lobby chandeliers, handpicked by the Corbetts, to Corbett Tower
—Restoring the three arched tracery windows under the rose window

• Cleaning the Springer Auditorium mural
• Restoring and displaying the Hall’s historic carved wood organ panels
• Overseeing the removal and return of statuary and paintings and covering the cost of storage during the renovation
• Contributions of over $4 million toward these restoration efforts

To learn more about SPMH’s work, including their “Beyond the Bricks” tours, visit spmhcincinnati.org

Which aspect of the Music Hall renovation has been most meaningful to SPMH representatives?

• “The most meaningful part to me is the care, attention and support the board of SPMH is devoting to the opening up and restoration of all of Corbett Tower, especially the three new tracery windows and the uncovering and restoration of the cove ceiling and stenciling on the walls of Corbett. The views east from the windows in restored Corbett Tower will be some of the coolest urban vistas you’ll ever see anywhere in the world.” —Peter E. Koenig, President, Society for the Preservation of Music Hall; Board of Directors, Music Hall Revitalization Company 

• “While the overall Music Hall revitalization effort has focused on creating an updated and more functional environment for the resident companies and audiences, SPMH has concentrated on funding the restoration of some of the glorious details of the original Hall.” —Ed Rider, Vice President, Society for the Preservation of Music Hall

• “My passion to reveal Cincinnati Music Hall’s glorious history, fueled by my background in historic preservation, led to me naturally joining SPMH to crusade for the restoration of this iconic building. Researching the architecture of the Hall, for an SPMH tour while the building is closed, uncovered nearly lost details. The black brick façade patterns barely visible after sandblasting, the arched tracery windows removed and bricked-in, and the sandstone bouquet finials crumbling away over time. After this major renovation, the SPMH team of caretakers still have future projects to get excited about, like the giant lyres that used to sit at each side of the rose window on the central gable, decorative iron cresting on the roof ridges, ornamental iron pinnacles/ lightening rods, flag poles on the towers, and my favorite detail discovery: iron flower finials on each dormer on the Hall.” —Thea Tjepkema Board of Directors, Society for the Preservation of Music Hall