Logan County Spotlight: The Holland Theatre


The Holland Theatre was opened in February of 1931 as Schine’s Holland Theatre which had 1,400 seats.

Schine Enterprises was a company that had over 100 theaters in the Midwest, and they decided to build one in Bellefontaine.

The Schine family hired Peter Hulsken, of Lima and originally from the Netherlands, as the architect to design the theater.

Hulsken decided to design a Dutch-themed theater, incorporating aspects of his hometown throughout the theater, such as the Dutch-inspired buildings on the inside of the theater.

The Holland is the only atmospheric theater in the nation that has 17th-century Dutch architecture.

It is known as “Ohio’s Most Beautiful Theatre.”

The architecture includes turning windmills, majestic lions (Netherlands’ national animal), dimly lit windows with tulips in the window boxes, as well as an evening sky with twinkling stars and moving clouds.

Executive Director of the Holland Theatre, Greg Titus, says why the community should come to the Holland:

The Holland has a deep history to where it is now.

In the 1970s, it was converted into a five-screen multiplex.

In 1998, the multiplex theater closed and was for sale.

Believing that the theater would get torn down, a group of 6th graders from Bellefontaine Middle School and their teacher, Kris Swisher, helped raise funds.

Performing an original play called “As the Windmill Turns”, the proceeds from this play kickstarted a campaign called “Save the Holland.”

In 1999, Richard and Peggy Knowlton purchased the theater and donated it to Logan County Landmark Preservation, Inc.

During this period, the theater reopened and shows continued to raise money during the restoration.

In 2019, the multimillion-dollar restoration was finished by many companies, local businesses, electricians, plumbers, and dedicated community members.

The long list of renovations included new seats, carpeting, curtains, restrooms, HVAC system, a roof, and many other projects.

The Holland Theatre is thrilled to announce that the Light Up the Holland Marquee Campaign is fully funded.

Thanks to strong community support, the Holland has raised $440,000 in donations and pledges that will be matched by a $220,000 grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation.

Launched in November 2022 and expected to last three years, the capital campaign was completed in less than a year.

“We are honored and humbled by the incredible community support we received that will once again light up the Holland, the gem of downtown,” said Titus.

The original marquee was a striking feature of the theater when it opened in 1931 and the decades that followed.

The blade was removed in the 1950s due to city code changes, and the rest of the marquee was removed in the 1960s due to street expansion and traffic.

The new marquee, to be built by Wagner Electric Sign Co of Elyria, Ohio, will combine the grandeur of the past with the latest in LED technology.

Construction is expected to take 10 to 12 months.

A gala event will be planned to celebrate the lighting of the new marquee.

“This is one of the best projects in the history of the foundation,” said Thomas Jeffris, the foundation’s president. “Special thanks to [Holland board chair] Kris Swisher who did a great job.”

This is the second time the Holland has worked with the Jeffris Family Foundation, based in Janesville, Wis., which also played a major role in the theater’s interior restoration completed in 2019.

Founded in 1979, the foundation is dedicated to preserving regionally and nationally important historic buildings and decorative arts projects for future generations.

The Jeffris Capital Campaign Challenge Grant supports historic preservation projects throughout the Midwest.

Major contributors to the Light Up the Holland campaign included Tonia Terebuh & the Lile Family Charitable Foundation (In Honor of Levi W. and Nancy Nicholl Lile), who each gave $100,000.

Pledging $20,000 each were:

  • Citizens Federal Savings & Loan
  • The Logan County Commissioners
  • Mary Rutan Health
  • Harold & Barbara Marker Charitable Trust
  • Jason and Ann Vogel
  • Randy & Teresa Marker
  • Chad & Jamie Ross Family

Dozens of additional businesses and individuals also gave generously to make the project possible.

Many community members gave in honor or memory of relatives or friends by donating $100 for a lightbulb.

A comedy show featuring an appearance from Dave Chappelle, who donated his time, also brought in funds.

“Now this pièce de résistance – a replica of the original marquee – will light up the face of our historic theater, once again supported by funding from the Jeffris Foundation,” Swisher said. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic and grateful to welcome this great addition to our theater.”

For additional information on the theater’s history and restoration: HERE.

Marquee from the 1930s (left) and a rendering of what the new marquee will look like in 2024 (right). Photos provided by the Holland Theatre.

To view the list of upcoming shows and to purchase tickets for the 2023-2024 season click HERE.

The Holland Theatre’s Box Office hours are Tuesday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 1 – 5 p.m.

Their phone number is (937) 592-9002.

The Holland is located at 127 East Columbus Avenue in Bellefontaine.

The website can be found HERE.