WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A big birthday will be celebrated this weekend in Warren as the Robins Theatre turns 100. For 45 of those years, the Robins was vacant, until three years ago when it was put back into use after a total renovation. Today, it brings people into downtown Warren on a regular basis.
From center stage, there’s a marvelous view of the renovation of the theater with its 1,400 seats.
“The architecture’s incredible. It’s Italian renaissance,” said Meghan Reed of the Trumbull County Historical Society.
Reed has pictures of the Robins in the late 1940s and a color shot from the early 1950s. When it opened on Jan. 9, 1923, it hosted movies and vaudeville acts.
“It cost about $300,000 to build. It was built by a man named Daniel Robins. He was a partner with the Warner brothers of Warner Brothers fame,” Reed said.
The Robins closed in 1974 and was unused for 45 years. Video from 2014 shows the Robins at its worst — filthy dirty with paint peeling and the ceiling caving in.
But then came developer Mark Marvin and his $5 million.
“Then here, probably within the next month, we’re going to start adding real color to the place,” Marvin said during a 2019 interview in the midst of the two-year renovation project.
The project culminated with the grand reopening on Jan. 9, 2020, 97 years to the day that the Robins first opened.
“All the concerns people had, whether it was security or parking. We’ve had none of those issues. There’s all the parking in the world,” said Ken Haidaris of Sunrise Entertainment.
Three years after reopening, the Robins is still being tweaked. The projector room has been torn out and is being rebuilt as a loge. Plus, the shows will be changing.
“We’re going to do a lot of bigger shows now. It’s been kind of an experiment with Warren — what’s going to work, what’s not. We have some big announcements coming,” Haidaris said.
But whoever takes the Robins stage, they know they’re walking on history.
“Historic preservation and what historic structures mean to cities, what character they bring to cities is definitely recognized and supported with academic research. It’s definitely something more cities across the country are doing,” Reed said.
The Robins will be celebrating 100 years with the following concerts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Friday — The Association, The Buckinghams and The Box Tops
Saturday — Pure Prairie League, Atlanta Rhythm Section and Firefall
Sunday — Count Basie Orchestra