Chestnut Ridge amphitheater from behindChestnut Ridge amphitheater from behind
Completed in 1936 to provide space for community theater and musical performances, this beautiful Works Progress Administration stone amphitheater remains in good condition in Chestnut Ridge Park, off of East Avenue in Akron, Ohio.
The amphitheater has been given Ohio Historic Preservation Office No SUM-354-16.
Akron submitted a$1,000,000 proposal to WPA to improve Glendale and Waters parks, along with 10 other parks (Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 23, 1935, p. 23). The projects were announced approved in March 1936, and Akron’s share of $30,000 was financed with bonds. Work was provided for “several hundred men”, 24 separate projects on 38 park properties and playgrounds (Akron Beacon Journal, Mar. 11, 1936, p. 21). Waters Park construction of outdoor theater was one of the projects. Included in a list published in April, Chestnut Ridge park and “open air theaters in numerous parks” were planned (Akron Beacon Journal, Apr. 29, 1936, p. 15). Waters Park work was begun July 16, with the city funding $3,000 and the WPA $17,000 (Akron Beacon Journal, Jul. 16, 1936, p. 26). Both Waters and Chestnut Ridge included stone benches seating 500 and 700, respectively (Akron Beacon Journal, Jul. 23, 1936, p. 19). I located no information about the stonemasons, though a number of individual area stonemasons were mentioned in articles. Given the purpose was to employ local persons on projects when possible, and local stonemasons were in the area, it is certainly plausible. One article did indicate the rock for Chestnut Ridge was quarried “from nearby hills” (Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 15, 1936, p. 13).
Akron Beacon Journal, Aug. 15, 1936, p. 13
Waymarking (http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM9M18_Chestnut_Ridge_Park_amphitheatre_Akron_Ohio), accessed August 2019.
Project originally submitted by Tessa Gaffney on November 5, 2014.
Additional contributions by Susan C Allen.
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