The Murphy Theater

The Murphy Theater has graced downtown Wilmington, Ohio since July 1918, just a few months before World War I ended. It was opened by a fellow named Charles Murphy who envisioned a grand theater for his hometown.

In 1929, Chakares Theaters of Springfield came knocking and leased the theater for many years. They installed modern equipment to accommodate modern movies – at that time called “talkies” and they remodeled. It did well during the Chakares years but began to struggle when the multiplexes became popular

By the eighties, Mr Murphy’s heirs wanted to sell the theater and a non-profit organization was born to save the theater and give it new life.

Today the theater hosts local productions, touring performers, meeting and weddings. According to their website, it sounds like a work in progress as they are wrapping up a new pub and concessions area.

The front of the theater with its box office, tile work and marquee is magnificent. It’s a real show stopper and, once this darn pandemic is over, I look forward to seeing a show there. This has been a tough year for many and I’m trying to use my resources smartly to support those small businesses and organizations that badly need us.

It was locked up right the day I was there but someday I will go back and stay at the historic General Denver Hotel down the street and see a show! Click here to read another story about Downtown Wilmington.

Downtown Wilmington

Saturday was spent rambling around the Wilmington and Hillsboro, Ohio area. I had a list of things to see but was delighted by all the other stuff I found along the way.

You’ll see a lot of these stories pop up here soon but there are a few specific ones I want to tell you this week.

The first of these is about downtown Wilmington. I have been through Wilmington but had never parked the car and explored. Here you’ll find a number of historic buildings that are a mixture of vacant and vibrant. There are also several impressive churches, a historic hotel, an old theater and beautiful murals.

The street lights are historic reproductions and it looks like someone will be along soon to plant flowers. It mainly felt safe, tidy and optimistic.

Here, you’ll find inspirational messages.

People are out walking, dining in restaurants and shopping the farmers market for which they close a city block.

You’ll find murals in high traffic locales and in alleyways. This one looks so realistic I almost thought it possible to open the door and enter.

Even the cat in this mural looks like it could start purring.

I shopped in an antique store that inhabits an old mill and dined at the General Denver Hotel which offered vegetarian options that didn’t involve grilled cheese or pizza. I haven’t eaten in many restaurants this last year but it wasn’t too busy and it felt perfectly comfortable. The food was excellent.

It’s a Tudor style, built in the twenties, and the kind of place I would enjoy staying. How fun would it be to get dressed up for a show at the Murphy Theater and have a nice dinner here? If you’ve stayed here, I would enjoy your review.

Expect more pictures from Wilmington soon but first we’ll visit Hillsboro tomorrow. There’s a real treasure in that town and I can’t wait to tell you about it.