The tough transition from City Opera Hall to City Opera House

Thinking of what amazing things I have been lucky to be part of during my permanence in The States, I would like to be the voice and eyes of my fellow American friends, and share with them what I was involved in on Saturday the 4th of February 2017. The City Opera House in Traverse City, Michigan, was celebrating 125 years with a concert featuring amazing performances thanks to the collaboration of local musicians (among them, a Grammy award winning pianist Bob James, and two violists of TC Symphony Orchestra), writers (young talent of Front Street Writers Project), and actors (representing the Old Town Playhouse).

Well, the reason I used the word tough in my title is because I personally believe the history behind this amazing building is something every single person who steps into this town should know about (including Traverse City residents and nearby neighbors).

Last Saturday, the City Opera House turned 125 years old and honestly it has a lot to say about all those years full of ups and downs. Let’s start with some curious facts about the City Opera House during its notorious and ill-famed years:

  • April 1891 Traverse City starts the construction of one of now only seven historic Victorian structures in Michigan
  • The construction is completed within 9 months
  • The City Opera Hall in short time becomes the first business in town
  • The final brick of the building is laid one day before Christmas Day 1891
  • For the informal opening, almost 600 seats were occupied and the ticket price was only $1.00 which included a complimentary oyster.
  • The first decade within its walls were filled with culture, music and plays.

Sadly, the Mid-century revolution of cinematography brought with it the wave of huge troubles. The majority of people were captured by the magic of the Big Screens, putting  businesses like the Opera Hall in financial problems. In fact, in the late 1940’s, years of bad times for the United States, the Opera Hall closed its doors for the first (and hopefully last) time, abandoning the building to the worst destiny: Oblivion

On Saturday, there was a point right before Bob James’s performance when my body became full of goosebumps. It was when the MC of the night, narrated how Kenneth and Mary Zacks in 1979 got involved and created the Heritage Committee for the restoration of the today City Opera House. I was proud of two good souls I personally had never met. I was happy for the City Opera House’s happy ending.

If you want the historic City Opera House to continue being a prideful part of the community, consider becoming involved (not necessarily donating money) but by just experiencing an alternative way of entertainment. You would probably be pleasantly surprised how many wonderful memories you would create.

The tasty pulp (I love) about the amazing story of the City Opera House?

It survived 3 fires in different years: 1906, 1975, 1987 – What I read between the lines?


Traverse City should be proud of the City Opera House.


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