Lenawee Co MI

Tecumseh, MI (Opera House) (1907) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

National Register Of Historic Places 24 May 1988

The Tecumseh Opera House is located on the west side of court house square at 123 South 3rd St., in the historic downtown Tecumseh district. Constructed in 1880 by W. R. Spicknell and W. H, Hassett of bricks manufactured by Spicknell in Tecumseh, the building was purchased by Henry Goodman a "popular young merchant" (Johnson county Journal, 6 May 1980) before its completion. The Two-part Commercial Block structure measures 76 feet wide by 80 feet long; the architect was Mr. W. L. Dunlap. It has a pitched, tar-covered roof, which has sustained some rain damage but was subsequently repaired. Access to the second-floor auditorium is by way of a wide stairway on the north end of the building. No ticket window remains.

The auditorium is 39 feet wide by 60 feet, 6 inches long, with five windows at the east end, overlooking Third Street. The theatre contains no balcony. The original molded white tin ceiling remains, although it and the walls have sustained rain damage. The lower three feet of the walls and the area below, the stage have wooden wainscoting. The wooden floor is in excellent condition. Storage space for wooden folding chairs is under the stage,

The proscenium arch measures 20 feet wide by approximately 11 feet high. The wing space on stage right extends 10 feet, while the stage left side is one foot shorter. The stage floor is 18 feet deep from the proscenium opening to the back wall. The stage has no apron, though a footlight trough does extend beyond the proscenium opening. There are no trap doors. A vintage advertising front curtain hangs unrolled at the front of the stage, although it postdates the opera house era. The original scenery was painted by H. 0, Thomas, Scenic Artist, of Macomb, Illinois.

The structural and historical integrity of the building and theatre has been preserved.

The two-story rectangular brick building has a flat roof with parapet wall and exhibits brick corbelling as the main decorative element of the primary facade. Fenestration consists of tall, narrow double-hung windows with segnentally arched openings and brick segmentally-arched window hoods. Fire street level facade has been modernized with new brick, plate glass windows and an aluminum awning. The transom windows have been covered with metal panels.

The first level retail space originally housed a barber shop and restaurant, and is currently used as a drug store. The opera house space is vacant.

The period of significance is derived from the original construction date of the building, 1880, only eight years after the arrival of the railroad line to town. It continued through 1917, the year considered to signal the end of the opera house era in Nebraska, based declining numbers of touring companies nationally and rising numbers of movie houses and automobiles. The Electric (Movie) Theatre took considerable business away from the Tecumseh Opera House; coupled with the Auburn Auditorium (21 miles), a first floor structure, competition and expenses restricted the Tecumseh Opera House to offering only sporadic vents dwindling in quantity year by year after 1917, primarily significant in the area of social history.

Social History

Oct 1882 Political speech by J. Sterling Morton

Nov 1883 Chicken Pie festival by ladies of the Universalist Church

Nov 1885 Pound Party to benefit the Home of the Friendless in Lincoln

Oct 1888 Political speech by Sen. Charles F. Sanderson

Nov 1900 Chrysanthemums how and supper

Nov 1903 Bazaar, supper, and entertainment by ladies of St. Andrew's Church

Nov 1903 Girls' basketball, town team vs. last year's high school team

Nov 1904 Basketball, Tecumseh H.S. vs. State Normal

Oct 1905 Girls 'and boys' basketball , Tecumseh vs. Table Rock

Nov 1908 Art exhibit and entertainment by high school pupils

Basketball, Tecumseh vs Wilber

Dec 1908 "County Fair" bazaar by M.E. Church

Oct 1917 "county Fair" pumpkins how by Tecumseh Bandage Circle


Oct 1881 Episcopal Society entertainment

Mrs. Ingham's dance

Dec 1881 Temperance lecture by Bob Norvel , "The Boy Preacher "

Oct 1882 Lecture by Mrs, Elizabeth L. Saxon

Tank Kee Lecture

Nov 1883 Silver Cornet Band ball

Grand masquerade Ball

Dec 1883 Home talent instrumental and vocal music

Temperance lecture by Mrs. Fixen

Nov 1885 Eli Perk in, "The Champ Liar of the World"

Annual masquerade ball

Lecture by Dr, Zielle and son, "Stage and Pulpit"

Nov 1887 Annual masquerade ball

Prof, Jundano, ventriloquist and

Dec 1888 Lecture by Prof. Vaught on "Better Marriages"

Benefit ball for Tecumseh

Nov 1889 Grand masquerade

Lecture by Mary A. Llvermore of Boston on "Women of the War"

Oct 1890 Temperance lecture by Luther Benson

Nov 1892 Ball sponsored by Peerless Dancing Club, music by Prof. Luft's orchestra

Oct 1893 Lectures by Father Enright on "Temperance and "The True Church"

Nov 1893 Lucia B. Griffin, elocutionist and impersonator

Ball sponsored by Tecumseh Dancing Club

Hard Times Ball

Nov 1898 Lectures by the Shaker Doctor on "Health" and "How to Live,

Nov 1899 Kline's

Prof. Harry Olsen's students' musical recital

Oct 1900 Dance, music by three

Oct 1903 Tecumseh Fire Dept. ball

Lecture by Col. George vs Bain on "Among the Masses"

Oct 1904 Lecture by Dr. M. Stewart on "Naples and Rome"

Nov 1904 Lecture by Prof. Frank R. Roberson on "Russia-Japan: The Destiny of the Far East"

Dec 1904 Eli as Day, character

Oct 1905 Fire Dept. ball

Oct 1906 Fire Dept. ball

Nov 1907 Moving pictures

Nov 1911 Fire Dept. ball

Lecture by Col P. E. Holp, "California"

Feb 1914 Promenade

Public dance by Tecumseh Military Band

Nov 1914 Lyman H. Howe's Travel Festival , moving pictures

Dec 1915 Lyman H. Howes'

Nov 1916 Election night dance

Lyman H. Howe's Travel Festival, moving pictures

Nov 1917 Grand masquerade

Backgrounds By Marie