When Music Hall was renovated in 2016, I didn’t think much beyond the construction tape and scaffolding; whatever was happening in there was happening in there by people who knew far more about what they were doing than I ever could, and I would perch upon my refurbished cultural tuffet when the project was complete.  Ladies withdraw from the eyes of others in their dishabille.

Music Hall was remarked upon not only for its carefully tuned acoustics, but for its beauty; built to house the May Festival, the clutch of businessmen who launched the project threw every gold filigree and slab of marble they had at it. If any settler group is going to craft a shrine for sound, it’s the Germans; our Lohengrin is not to be trifled with.

I figured the refurbishment process involved maybe some rebricking, installing a WiFi antenna or two, and a few swipes with Pine Sol on the ceiling murals. But then in the library I happened on a book-long photo essay about the process (it’s called Through the Lens: The Remaking of Cincinnati’s Music Hall— read it read it read it.) And I realized the absolute and utter upheaval of this process, one that reached down beneath the formerly carpeted main auditorium:

This is what the chandelier-hung, velvet-draped shrine to sound looked like for weeks. It is alien. You’re standing at the back of the house, facing the stage right now. And it looks like it was strip mined by wombats. I have never seen any building in such an ugly, apparently hopeless condition. It’s a monstrosity.

You know where I’m going with this: It’s not the first time this has happened to a beloved city institution. At least in Music Hall’s situation, this happened once, on a carefully planned schedule, and will hopefully only take place again in another 150 years. Workers figured out every daily drama as they went and didn’t drag the entire city along with them.

One of the crowing jewels of the city once spilled her guts and showed the rickety underpinnings, but these were carefully restored, lovingly re-sealed, and set robustly in place for another season.

Somebody needs to ship that lesson from Washington Park to Pete Rose Way.

7 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    How to move from a metaphorical rebuild of the mess at our ground floor to an actual teardown and reconstruction of the ownership group that taunts us at every turn. A puzzle to be pondered and worked to be sure …

    The history is rich indeed. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to count for much and the drought likely will continue until something BIG changes.

    Keep the faith, MBE. You are one of our lights in the darkness.

  2. Melvin

    Another good article. I somehow get an underlying feeling that you’re not too happy with Reds ownership. Don’t want to jump to conclusions though and have someone get mad at me. lol 🙂