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Showboat Majestic sells in auction for more than $110,000

Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-09 23:34:26-05

CINCINNATI — The Showboat Majestic, the last floating theater in America, has officially sold.

Bidding began at $10,000 and after 88 bids, was finally concluded Friday, with the ship officially selling for $110,100.

But the floating piece of history doesn't come without strings. Because of its status on the National Register of Historic Places, and a 2007 restoration grant it was awarded, there are many stipulations with which the vessel's new owners will have to comply.

According to auction documents, the ship "can only be sold to a buyer who will sign and enter into a covenant with the State Historic Preservation Office."

Auction documents also include other restrictions on the new owners:

  • No changes can be made to the architecturally or historically significant features of the Showboat including coloring or surfacing without first receiving prior approval of the State Historic Preservation Office.
  • Public access to the boat for no less than 12 days a year on an equitably spaced basis is required. The dates and times when the boat is open to the public must be published annually and provided to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). If the boat is moved to another location but is viewable from a public right-of-way, this may be found to meet the public access requirement.
  • The Showboat must be maintained.
  • If any repair, rehabilitation or alteration is to be carried out, this must meet the “Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings.”

Owners are allowed to relocate the Showboat Majestic outside of Ohio, however, as long as they comply with the covenant stipulations in any state to which it's moved. So there's no guarantee the Showboat Majestic will continue to call Cincinnati its home.

Regardless of what the new owners choose to do with it, auction documents state the Showboat Majestic must be moved from its current location; there won't be the ability for a lease agreement in its current space.

The Showboat Majestic, originally built in 1923, is equipped with 218 seats inside the main theater and provides a stage, dressing rooms and restrooms on-board. The ship's theater is still fully functional, and could still be used as a public theater if the new owner chooses to take that avenue.