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Exterior photo of the Schuster Center with dramatic lighting at night.

Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

1 West Second Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402

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Built in 2003, the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center is a world-class facility for the best in local, national and international entertainment. The Schuster Center includes the Mead Theatre, the Mathile Theatre, and the Wintergarden featuring palm trees set against a block-long, glass-enclosed atrium. The Schuster Center is also available to rent for meetings, parties, receptions, and performances.

Exterior photo of the Schuster Center with dramatic lighting at night.
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Facilities
Schuster Center Mead Theatre as viewed from the stage Looking up at the ceiling of the Meade Theater in the Schuster Center Detail image of the seats in the Meade Theatre at the Schuster Center
Mead Theatre

At the heart of the Schuster Center lies the 2,300-seat Mead Theatre, a state-of-the-art facility designed to accommodate a diverse array of performing arts, including orchestral music, opera, theatre, and dance. The Mead Theatre delivers stunning aural and visual experiences for audiences. That experience begins with the look of the theatre. Architect Cesar Pelli’s design invokes the feeling of an evening under the stars. The cool blues and orange-reds of the theatre’s interior reach all the way to the domed ceiling, where concentric circles of fiber optic lights depict the Dayton sky as it appeared on the eve of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, December 16, 1903. Careful attention to layout and acoustics further enhances the experience. World-class theatre planning and design consultants worked to create an intimate setting, with the last row a mere 120 feet from the stage. Seating options include orchestra, loge, and lower and upper balconies. Acoustical experts customized the theatre to meet the unique needs of performances requiring both acoustical and technical excellence. In addition to delivering outstanding concert hall acoustics, the use of cutting-edge sound isolation technologies in Mead Theatre ensures that external noise will not distract from the performances.

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Mathile Theatre Mathile Theatre Mathile Theatre
Mathile Theatre

The 56' x 36', 150-seat black box Mathile Theatre provides a rehearsal facility for the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Dayton Opera and offers an intimate setting for smaller-scale performances. The careful attention to detail in the Schuster Center’s design allows it to be used concurrently with the main theatre. The space can also be rented for receptions, arts education programs, meetings, and performances.

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Schuster Center Wintergarden Schuster Center Wintergarden Schuster Center Wintergarden
Kettering Wintergarden

The Kettering Wintergarden, a spectacular six-story glass atrium, ties the individual pieces of the Schuster Center together in grand fashion. The open air space is available for weddings, charity balls, corporate functions, formal dinners, and special events. The facility can accommodate events of up to 1,000 people. It features a fabulous elliptical staircase leading from the Wintergarden to the balcony lobby level, and 1,900 panes of patterned glass that keep heat out and energy in the building. The Wintergarden also includes The Dayton Power & Light Company Foundation community stage.

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Directions & Parking
Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center

Address

1 West Second Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402

From I-75

Take the Main Street (Rt. 48) exit, follow Main Street south to Second Street. The Schuster Center occupies the entire block between Ludlow and Main Streets, along Second Street.

From US-35

Take the Main Street (Rt. 48) exit, follow Main Street north to Second Street. The Schuster Center occupies the entire block between Ludlow and Main Streets, along Second Street.

The Arts Garage

Address

107 North Ludlow Street
Dayton, Ohio 45402

From I-75

Take the Main Street (Rt. 48) exit, follow Main Street south to Monument Avenue. Turn right onto Monument Avenue heading west, then turn left onto Ludlow Street, heading south. The Arts Garage will be on your right, behind the Schuster Center.

From US-35

Take the Main Street (Rt. 48) exit, follow Main Street north to Monument Avenue. Turn left onto Monument Avenue heading west, then turn left onto Ludlow Street, heading south. The Arts Garage will be on your right, behind the Schuster Center.

History

Origins

Designed by internationally renowned architect César Pelli, who passed away in July 2019, the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center became a reality due to the persistence, dedication, and generosity of a variety of individuals and organizations across the Miami Valley and beyond. Encompassing the entire Second Street block between Main and Ludlow Streets where the old Rike’s department store once stood, the project began in April 2000 and was completed in February 2003. The facility includes 388,000 square feet, cost $121 million, and was completed on time and on budget. The project was supported financially by a variety of individual, corporate, foundation and state entities. Dr. Benjamin Schuster and his wife Marian played an integral role in the realization of the performing arts center that bears their names, donating $8 million to the project. Dr. and Mrs. Schuster have provided an incredible legacy for the arts in our community.

Exterior photo of the Schuster Center Wintergarden Steel workers working on the Schuster Center. Scaffolding on the stage during the construction of the Schuster Center Construction of the Meade Theater at the Schuster Center. Exterior construction at the Schuster Center

The Grand Opening

The Grand Opening Weekend of February 28-March 2, 2003, brought together an impressive array of events and performances to celebrate the Schuster Center’s completion. It all began with the amazing aerial ballet of Project Bandaloop on the exterior of Performance Place, followed by the elegant Gala Dinner. The Gala Evening of Stars performance brought together national celebrities, such as Walter Cronkite, Ray Charles, and Allison Janney, as well as many local arts groups. Thousands braved the cold weather on March 2 to attend the Community Open House. The crown jewel of the Dayton arts community celebrated its 10th anniversary with a series of festivities in 2013. Since its grand opening, the Schuster Center has hosted more than 3,400 performances. More than 3.5 million people have attended performances in the Mead and Mathile theatres, while more than 700,000 people have attended nearly 6,800 catered events on the premises.

Attendees of the Schuster Center Grand Opening Gala in the wintergarden. Ray Charles performing at the Schuster Center Grand Opening gala. Bob Newhart performing at the Schuster Center Grand Opening gala. Walter Cronkite with conductor Neal Gittleman at the Schuster Center Grand Opening gala. Dr. Benjamin Schuster, actress Allison Janey, Marian Schuster, and Macy & Jervis Janney attend the Schuster Center Grand Opening Gala.

Building Details

At the heart of the Schuster Center is the 2,325-seat Mead Theatre with state-of-the-art acoustics and superior sightlines. With three lobby levels and four seating levels, the space was designed to have no seat more than 120 feet from the stage. The stage and theatre house can be configured to best support any form of live entertainment - from live orchestra to a rock show, from grand opera to Broadway. At the center of the concentric circles at the top of the Mead Theatre ceiling is a starfield created by fiber optics, which were just renovated in June 2019. The starfield depicts the Dayton sky on the eve of the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903. It is 93 feet from the floor to the starfield. The diameter of the upper ellipse is 40 feet, the length of the wingspan of the Wright flyer. From the last row of the upper balcony to the center of the stage is 120 feet, approximately the distance the Wright Brothers flew that day in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The flexible Mathile Theatre is a black box theatre that can be used for rehearsals, special events, and meetings, as well as smaller productions. The Schuster Center’s most spectacular statement is the six-story high Kettering Wintergarden, a block-long, wrap-around glass atrium with the magnificent Reynolds & Reynolds Palm Grove. It features 1,900 panes of glass and 13,000 square feet of cashmere travertine marble. The Dayton Power & Light Company Foundation Stage serves as a presentation stage for gala events and weddings and doubles as a performance area. The 40-foot-high Dayton Foundation Grand Staircase leads from the Wintergarden up to the balcony lobby levels of the theatre.

A view from the stage of the Mead Theatre at the Schuster Center A view from the balcony looking at the stage in the Mead Theatre at the Schuster Center A view of the balconies in the Mead Theatre at the Schuster Center

In Remembrance of Dr. Benjamin Schuster

From extremely humble beginnings in Wisconsin, Dr. Benjamin Schuster and his beloved wife Marian became two of Dayton’s most treasured humanitarians. A generous and gracious man, Dr. Schuster possessed a vision of a Dayton with a flourishing arts community and he lived to see it happen. Marian Schuster was a trained musician and the entire family embraced the arts as an integral part of their lives. Through their love of the arts, dedication to the community and generosity of spirit, the Schusters laid a foundation of support and trust by making the lead gift to establish a world-class performing arts center in downtown Dayton, a gift that gave birth to the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center. Dr. Schuster’s legacy and leadership continue to have a far-reaching impact in the Miami Valley and especially within the Arts community. Always with a smile and an encouraging word, Dr. Schuster helped make it possible for hundreds of thousands of Miami Valley citizens to experience world-class performing arts events that would not have been possible without the state-of-the-art facility that bears his and his late wife Marian’s name.

Dr. Benjamin & Marian Schuster Dr. Benjamin & Marian Schuster signing a steel beam during construction of the Schuster Center Dr. Benjamin & Marian Schuster dancing at an event at the Schuster Center