The Huntington Playhouse, which was given to BAYarts for free by the Cleveland MetroParks, has seen its fair share of turmoil, including burning down in the seventies.

The Huntington Playhouse hasn’t heard its last curtain call yet.

BAYarts began its capital campaign earlier this month to fund the second phase of expansion for the nearly 60-year-old playhouse, which has sat vacant on its Lake Road campus since 2015.

“We’re currently putting together a plan on what the renovations will cost, which include construction costs and soft costs for the project,” said Beth Milli, project coordinator of the expansion. Fundraising appeals so far have been made only to donors who have expressed interest in giving to the project.

The cost is estimated at $3.5 million, according to Executive Director Nancy Heaton, although she said that could change. The project is expected to be completed early next year.

Designed in collaboration with Cleveland architect John Williams, the 240-seat theater will be turned into a multi-classroom space including rooms for woodworking, digital arts and jewelry classes. While the organization doesn’t want to “resurrect” the theater, it will offer a smaller stage for productions like a TED talk-type series, concerts or improv nights.

The first phase of the renovation, which cost $300,000, was partially funded through support from Bay Village native Patricia Heaton, famous for her roles in “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Middle.” It was finished in January and focused on adding a classroom and proper insulation to the structure and making the bathrooms usable and accessible.

“The standards for a building in the ’70s is not the same as what we expect now,” Nancy Heaton said. “It wasn’t accessible, there wasn't any sprinkler systems and the heating wasn’t efficient enough.”

The organization is already benefiting from the renovations. Revenue has increased by 20% just from one class alone, Nancy Heaton said.

Nancy Heaton hopes that this expansion will allow the organization to expand its educational offerings and hold community activities on the campus.

“Our purpose is to serve our community,” Nancy Heaton said, noting that some of the classes BAYarts offers fill up within three minutes. “We’ve seen the demand for more cultural experiences and education for all ages.”

Contact this reporter at or 440-871-5797.

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