Having recently discovered this vintage photo by Gowdy Bros of Coldwater, Michigan, I began to wonder if this beautiful young woman was one of the visiting actresses who performed at the local theater, The Tibbet Opera House back in the 1800's? She certainly looks like she could have been! Many young ladies of her time graced the stage of the Tibbets!
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Tibbits Opera House was a regular stop along State Route US 12 for traveling performers moving between Detroit and Chicago. The theatre hosted Vaudeville acts in the early days and later many famous entertainers including P.T. Barnum, Ethel Barrymore, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, and more.
This theater, located not more than an hour from my home is one I have visited on occasion and enjoyed. The historic stage and building has many stories to tell...a lovely adventure back in time. The construction of the opera house was financed by Barton S. Tibbits, in 1882 but, unfortunately, he spent his entire fortune on the project and died penniless. Still he and his work will long be remembered!
"In the shimmering glow of 306 gas lights, Tibbits Opera House greeted its first opening night audience on September 21, 1882. Parking horses and buggies at the Livery Stable, theatre patrons, dressed in their finest, entered the town's new treasure under the gaze of a gathered crowd.
They were welcomed by Barton S. Tibbits, then ushered through leather covered wood doors into the performance area. Elegant red Brussels' carpet softened their steps, and "grand opera chairs," upholstered in "dark Cardinal plush" waited, while beneath a dome resplendent with painted cherubs, a large chandelier scattered sparkles of reflected light over all. Dominating the scene was a grandly ornate Proscenium Stage with elegant opera boxes situated within the massive tin and plaster arch. Elegance was paired with superb acoustics, and behind the closed curtain, actors and crew waited to present "Maid of Arran." After remarks by local dignitaries, Tibbits was summoned onstage with tumultuous applause.
Today Tibbits is busy year round. Professional summer stock and children's theatre draw large summer crowds. Winter events include concerts, Community Theatre, Christmas shows, recitals, children's theatre, and professional productions" (Tibbets).