ADRIAN, Mich. (WJBK) - The Croswell Opera House in Adrian is the oldest theater in the state and one of the oldest in the country. After a year-long renovation, what's old is new as the nonprofit theater reopened and inspired the entire community.
Jere Righter is the woman behind the restoration. She's the Artistic Director of the Croswell Opera House and first found a home on the stage when she was just a teen. Now she's leading the theater into the future.
"This is a place you come home to, it's a place where if you've never been it feels like home as soon as you come in, it's just, it's for everybody," she said. "You don't have the oldest theater in the state of Michigan without having many people having paid attention to it over the years. From the day it was built - right through today."
The Croswell was built in 1866 and named for a former Michigan governor. In the early years, it was used for lectures, political rallies and shows. It hosted many famous figures, like John Philip Sousa, Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Frederick Douglas. In 1921, it became a movie theater and showed cinematic history for almost 50 years.
In 1967, 101 years after it was built, it nearly met it's demise: it was slated for demolition. Then the city stepped up.
"The people in the community said hold on, we have to take care of this place, and we get one chance to do it and they sure did," Righter said.
A passionate group saved the Croswell and it once again became a home for live performances. This year marked the 50th year since it was saved and it was time for another renovation.
A total of $8.5 million was raised to bring the theater up to date with new rehearsal space, dressing rooms, lighting, and sound equipment - all while maintaining the theater's rich history.
Huel Perkins took a tour of the historic theater. Go along with him as he spoke with others who think so much of this piece of Michigan history.
The Croswell is one of the community partners in the FOX 2 Giving Guide. CLICK HERE for more information.