The Ro-Na Theater in downtown Ironton was once billed as southern Ohio’s “finest theater.” After years of neglect, it’s being restored.
“They say when you are missing someone that they are probably feeling the same, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to miss me as much as I’m missing you right now.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay
In late February, I set out to explore the knobs of Kentucky and wander the back roads. Feeling at ease with being back in my home state but missing it dearly, I set aside some mellow tunes, cranked the window down and pitted myself against the cold with the heaters blaring. It was a melancholy and overcast afternoon which lent itself well to what I discovered.
Years ago, I often went to the mammoth Huntington Mall in Barboursville, West Virginia. It was the largest shopping center in the largest in the state – and also its busiest. The mall was dated, coated with speckled brown tiles inside, ribbed paneling outside and other trendy lights and accessories that made this center a poster-child for the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
The Wick Building is located at 34 West Federal Street at North Phelps Street in Youngstown, Ohio. Completed in 1910, the 13-story building was designed by the renowned architect Daniel Burnham into the Chicago School and Romanesque-revival architectural style. It was the city’s tallest building at the time of its erection and was home to the Wick Brothers Trust Company among other Wick family enterprises.
The Paramount Theatre is located in Youngstown, Ohio and was originally known as the Liberty Theatre. Designed by Detroit architect C. Howard Crane, with Stanley & Scheibel serving as associate architects, the vaudeville house opened on February 11, 1918 with the production of “A Modern Musketeer.” The late Neo-classical, Ecole des Beaux Arts exterior featured terra cotta ornamentation, while the interior featured ornate plaster detailing and 1,700 seats.
There is a lot of commonality between Youngstown, Ohio and the Ohio River valley that I grew up within near Ironton. Both are areas that have experienced major employment losses, either due to a declining steel mill or other heavy industries; both are areas that have experienced population declines in the cities; both are areas that are impoverished. But the severity of Youngstown’s losses are hard to compare to.