Built in 1908 and abandoned in 1960, local citizens in the former boom mining town of Shawnee saved the former Improved Order of Red Men’s Hall from the wrecking ball in 1976 and rechristened it as the Tecumseh Theater. That same year, Shawnee’s iconic overhanging porches and rich labor union history resulted in the town’s business district being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. Major water damage from a roof damaged by fire had decimated the interior, but young preservationists were undeterred as they first replaced the roof and repaired structural problems, before mothballing the four story building.
In 1992, a portion of the first floor storefront space opened as public library, and an apartment was restored in the rear of the building, creating rental income. In 2008 the remainder of the first story interior was completed as a public event space known as the Tecumseh Commons. As well brick tuck pointing, facade restoration and window replacement were also made possible through the federal Save America’s Treasures program. Since 2008 the interior stairwell to the main opera house style balcony theater has been replaced providing access to the theater, balcony and four story ballroom which once housed the fraternal lodge that built the structure. As well electrical service has been installed in the main theater. An elevator tower, HVAC systems, wall and floor surfaces, restrooms, seating and stage equipment remain to be completed in the theater space.
The first floor event space known as the Tecumseh Commons now serves multiple purposes as the “Destination Shawnee” effort has joined with village government, Ohio’s Winding Road, the Buckeye Trail Association and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds Council to make Shawnee an increasingly popular location for outdoor recreation, entertainment and interpretive events. Using history, architecture and nature as assets, the building’s owner, Sunday Creek Associates, has persisted against the odds, in a community with little old money, corporate or foundation resources.
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Join our efforts to operate the Tecumseh Commons as a gathering space for cultural and community events for all!