On 28 February by MS in , , , ,    1 comment
One of the first things people often ask about The Linda Theater is how it got its name. The answer is pretty simple: local builder and developer Ernest Alessio named it after his daughter. Assisted in the design and construction by his sons Lino and Reno, Alessio created a landmark that is not only closely identified with the surrounding neighborhood, but known throughout Akron.

The stretch of land along Goodyear Boulevard where The Linda resides was always intended to be set aside for mixed use (commercial & retail) development; in fact original plans by Frank Seiberling’s architect show a large, attractive Tudor-style building with apartments above and shops at street level. Due to the recession of 1921, it was never built. Over the years, a number of small frame buildings appeared here, including some grocery stores and confectioners, hardware stores and a pharmacy. Goodyear Heights Baptist Church laid claim to the north end of the block.

After WWII, there was building boom in The Heights as GIs returned from the war. In 1948, Alessio purchased some properties on the block and built the Linda to serve the growing neighborhood. An experienced general contractor who built other Akron buildings like the Federal Building and the old Akron Library, Alessio designed The Linda himself after rejecting an expensive architect bid. Son Reno managed the theater for many years and daughter Linda served at the concession counter.

Opening night at The Linda was a big hit, featuring the film “Tap Roots” – starring Van Heflin and Susan Hayward. Billed as “Akron’s Newest & Most Modern Movie Theater” it featured 500 seats, an advanced projection system and of course—air conditioning.

For almost 7 decades, the theater has entertained generations of Goodyear Heights and Akron residents, and has been successfully operated by current owner Ted Bare for many years. The theater continues to play feature films after they have finished their initial runs at major show houses—which allows big savings on ticket prices. In 2008, the R.I.G.H.T. Committee hired Akron artist Brian Parsons to create a large mural on the east side of the building, facing the Boulevard. It features historical, architectural and scenic images of Goodyear Heights from the last 100 years.

On 25 February by MS in , , ,    No comments

Back in June, large groups of Akronites got to discover Goodyear Heights in a whole new way, courtesy of Akron2Akron. Old house lovers, history enthusiasts and just folks who wanted to explore a new place showed up on a Thursday night and a Saturday morning for two different walking tours of our historic neighborhood.

If you’ve never heard of it, Akron2Akron is a locally-based project that invites the community to come together for informal monthly walking tours of Akron's neighborhoods. These walking tours have proven to be a great way to learn about neighborhoods in our city, engage in meaningful dialogue, meet new friends, and think big about how to utilize space in Akron. Most of the tours typically about an hour and end at a neighborhood establishment where participants have the opportunity to network.

The June Goodyear Heights walk focused on the oldest part of the neighborhood. Beginning at the park on Malasia Rd. (on the east side of Brittain) walkers had a choice of two separate tours: heading up the scenic steps to Hillside Terrace and over to the Bingham Path steps, or to cross Brittain Rd. and see some of the smaller parks that were integrated into the neighborhood’s original design. Along the way, tour guides Mike Herhold and Mark Schweitzer provided each group with details on the neighborhood’s history, landscape design, architecture and even trivia. Both tours ended at the gazebo park at Pioneer St., where refreshments and cookies were provided by R.I.G.H.T..

With almost 100 visitors on Thursday evening and about 40 on the following Saturday, the Goodyear Heights tour ended up being one of Akron2Akron’s most popular neighborhood tours. Because of the relationship between Stan Hywet Hall and Goodyear Heights (both were built by Frank Seiberling with landscape design by Warren Manning) representatives of Stan Hywet requested an additional tour for their volunteers. That history walk took place in August, with about 25 of their volunteers in attendance.

Since the history walks have proven to be so popular, the R.I.G.H.T. Committee is considering making them a part of their annual program. This year, we are considering a walk that focuses on the area further up Goodyear Boulevard, around Reservoir Park and The Linda Theater up to George Long Park. Keep an eye out on this website for more information.