Croswell Opera House
Adrian Union Hall-Croswell Opera House
Location within the state of Michigan
|Location||129 East Maumee Street
|Architect||John C. Brompton|
|Part of||Downtown Adrian Commercial District|
|NRHP Reference #||85000839|
|Added to NRHP||April 18, 1985|
|Designated MSHS||March 2, 1976|
The Croswell Opera House is a historic theater located at 129 East Maumee Street in the city of Adrian, Michigan. It is recognized as the oldest continuously running theater in the state and among the oldest in the United States. The theater and the adjoining hall were designated as a Michigan Historic Site on March 2, 1976 and later added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Adrian Union Hall-Croswell Opera House on April 18, 1985.
When it first opened, in 1866, the Croswell provided entertainment to Lenawee County (Michigan) and the surrounding area. Concerts, lectures, vaudeville acts, minstrel shows, and various educational activities could be seen at the theater. Legendary figures including Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglas and Edwin Booth graced the stage throughout the years.
In 1921, the Croswell was converted into a movie theater and would remain one until 1967, when it was scheduled for destruction. The Adrian Foundation saved the building and the Croswell Opera House, and Fine Arts Association was created in order to promote the arts and to preserve the heritage of the opera house. In 1976, the two adjacent buildings were acquired, annexed, and renovated into the current art gallery, offices, and rehearsal spaces.
During this time, the Croswell has served as a venue for community theatre, concerts and lectures and provided a home for the Junior Town Hall series of professional theatre for children. The Croswell has also served as a rental facility and auditorium for school plays, musicals, and other various events. The Croswell became an official Michigan Historic site in 1976. In the same year the adjacent Goodwin and Birmingham buildings were acquired and renovated to create the current art gallery, box office, staff offices, rehearsal room and Heritage Room. With these renovations, the Croswell became a multi-functional facility.
During the mid-1980s, the Croswell was officially recognized as the oldest continuously operating theater in Michigan, the third oldest in the United States, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1989 the Croswell was ready for a major change. The orchestra level of the theater was renovated to include new seating, an enlarged orchestra pit, a new stage floor, new carpeting, and a new main curtain. A brass rail and curtain were added to the front of the orchestra pit along with the brass railing on the balcony. Attendance during this time broke all previous records. Because of the increase of ticket sales, a new computerized ticketing system was added in 1992. The following year, the rehearsal room received a new floor and the ceiling was raised.
In more recent years, the auditorium has received a fresh coat of paint with burgundy and gold medallions (1998) as well as the much anticipated air conditioning system (2000). The Croswell facade received some needed improvements and painting to complement the new marquee.The red velvet carpet (2006) was replaced along with the side entry awning (2007). The box office received major renovations when the LCVA art gallery was added to the space (2010). A new concession stand was constructed in the lobby (2011–12) and the bathrooms were recently remodeled (2012).