Agora Theatre and Ballroom

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Agora Theatre and Ballroom
Agora logo.gif
Agora - Cleveland, OH (cropped).jpg
Former names Metropolitan Theatre
Bijou Theatre
WHK Auditorium
Cleveland Grande
Disastodrome
New Hippodrome Theatre
Address 5000 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44103
Location United States
Coordinates 41°30′14″N 81°39′13″W / 41.50389°N 81.65361°W / 41.50389; -81.65361
Owner MidTown Cleveland Inc.
Type Concert hall
Genre(s) Rock
Capacity 1,800
Construction
Opened March 31, 1913
Renovated October 3, 1986
Website
clevelandagora.com

The Agora Theatre and Ballroom (commonly known as the Cleveland Agora, or more simply, The Agora) is a concert club located in Cleveland, Ohio founded by Henry "Hank" LoConti Sr. The Agora name was previously used by two other Cleveland venues in succession, the latter of which was destroyed by fire in 1984. The current Agora venue, known as such since 1986, first opened in 1913 as the Metropolitan Theatre.

On December 29, 2011, the LoConti family donated the Agora to MidTown Cleveland Inc., a nonprofit organization.[1][2]

History of the Agora[edit]

Cornell and Random[edit]

The first Agora in Cleveland, informally referred to as Agora Alpha, opened on February 26, 1966 on the corner of Cornell and Random Roads in Little Italy near the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

East 24th Street[edit]

In 1967, the Agora moved to a second building near the campus of Cleveland State University. Once settled in their new location, the new Agora Ballroom, informally referred to as Agora Beta, played a role in giving exposure to many bands, both from the Cleveland area and abroad. Many artists such as Bruce Springsteen, U2, Lou Reed, Grand Funk Railroad, Duran Duran, ZZ Top, Glass Harp, The Raspberries, and hundreds of others achieved much exposure after playing the Agora. The Cleveland Agora was also the setting of the concert by Paul Simon's character in the opening minutes of the 1980 movie One-Trick Pony. The front facade of the Cleveland Agora was temporarily swapped for the one shown in the movie.

The popularity of the club led the Agora to expand during the 1970s, opening as many as thirteen clubs, in cities including Columbus, Ohio, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Miami, Hartford, Akron, Toledo, New Haven, Painesville and Youngstown. However, the Cleveland location is the only one still in existence today.

In 1984, the Agora was destroyed by a fire. A little over a year later, they reopened in a new building on Euclid Avenue, east of Downtown Cleveland. They have remained there since then, and today is still a popular concert club, with many national acts playing there when they stop in Cleveland.

History of 5000 Euclid Avenue[edit]

Pelle Almqvist of The Hives performs at the Cleveland Agora in 2008.

The building currently known as the Agora first opened on March 31, 1913 with an English performance of Aida as the Metropolitan Theatre. It was the brainchild of Max Faetkenheuer, an opera promoter and conductor who had also been involved in the construction of the monumental Hippodrome Theatre on Euclid Avenue five years earlier. The new opera house was well received and did well early on, but later struggled to stay profitable. Among various uses, the Metropolitan was home to a Cleveland's Yiddish theatre troupe in 1927. This brief episode in its history came to an end a few months later in 1928 after the troupe was involved in a bus accident on the way to a performance in Youngstown; the actors were too injured to perform and the venture went bankrupt. By 1932, the venue had turned into a vaudeville/burlesque house called "The Gayety," hosting "hoofers, comics and strippers." The Metropolitan returned to its original use for a short time during the mid-1940s staging comedic musicals, but by the end of the decade stage productions had ceased and the theatre became a full-time movie house. Later, the venue became known as the Bijou Theatre. From 1951–78, the theater offices were home to radio stations WHK (1420 AM) and WMMS (100.7 FM); the theater itself was known as the WHK Auditorium. Later still, the theater was known as the Cleveland Grande, and then the Disastodrome. In the early 1980s, it briefly reopened as the New Hippodrome Theatre showing movies.[3][4]

Following the fire which destroyed the Agora Ballroom on East 24th Street, club owner Henry LoConti, Sr. decided to move to the 5000 Euclid Avenue location. Following extensive renovations, the new Agora Theatre and Ballroom, the third Cleveland venue to bear the Agora name, opened in October 1986. The 24th St. Agora was the site of a live recording on the 1996 reissue of Patti Smith's Horses album. The present-day Agora has two rooms: a newly renovated [April, 2010] 500 capacity, standing-room-only ballroom with adjoining bar, and an 1800 seat theater. It is available for rentals, and is still playing host to nationally touring acts. Plans are underway to reopen the Backstage Cafe.[5] The Agora is the host of Cleveland based band Mushroomhead's annual Halloween show.

Henry LoConti Sr. died on July 8, 2014 at age 85.

References[edit]

  • Adams, Deanna R. (2002). Rock and Roll and the Cleveland Connection. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-691-3. 
  • Gorman, John; Feran, Tom (2007). The Buzzard: Inside the Glory Days of WMMS and Cleveland Rock Radio — A Memoir. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-886228-47-4. 
  • Olszewski, Mike (2003). Radio Daze: Stories from the Front in Cleveland's FM Air Wars. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-773-6. 
  • Wolff, Carlo (2006). Cleveland Rock and Roll Memories: True and Tall Tales of the Glory Days, Told by Musicians, DJs, Promoters, and Fans Who Made the Scene in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Cleveland, Ohio: Gray & Co. ISBN 978-1-886228-99-3. 


  1. ^ Northeast Ohio. "Agora complex changes hands; LoContis donate property to MidTown Cleveland Inc. for project". cleveland.com. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ Faris, Mark (August 15, 1985). "Cleveland Agora Will Rock Again at New Site". The Plain Dealer (The Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). p. D3 - Lifestyle. 
  4. ^ "Metropolitan Theatre". CinemaTreasures.org. Cinema Treasures, LLC. 2011. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  5. ^ Petkovic, John (2008-08-20). "A new beat for historic Agora club". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 

External links[edit]