Search: Select Location Type:  
General Info
Home
Latest Info Updates
Advanced Search
Image Search
Site Statistics
About Us
Advertise Here
Support This Site
Contact Us
Press Clippings
Submit New Info
Drive-In Theaters
Drive-Ins by County
Open Drive-Ins
Drive-In History
Latest Drive-In Photos
Ohio Drive-In Theaters
Digital Restorations
Indoor Theaters
Theaters by County
Latest Theater Photos
Old Theaters
Old Theater Ads
Opera Houses
Movie Palaces
Amusement Parks
Amusement Parks
Latest Photos
Fairs
Fun Parks
Auto Racing
Motor Speedways
Latest Speedway Photos
Drag Racing
Latest Drag Strip Photos
John G's Dragstrip Pics
Cars and Drivers
Gas, Food and Lodging
Restaurants
Gas Stations
Motels
Tourist Cabins
Hotels
Boats
Hydroplane Racing
Ships
Cities and Towns
Schools
Vintage Detroit
Aerial Views
Ghost Towns
Train Depots
Post Offices
Downtown Views
Old Towns
Airports
Ballrooms
Interesting Architecture
Retail
Old Line Stores
Shopping Centers
Wonderland Mall
Car Dealers
Venues
Landmarks
Military
Industrial
Recreation and Sports
Lakes
Lighthouses
Campgrounds
Beaches
Resorts
Ski Resorts
Bowling Alleys
Golf
Roadside Michigan
Old Tourism Ads
Tourist Traps
Vintage Signs
Googie Architecture
Multimedia
Video Clips
Audio Clips
Resources
Links

Blakes Opera House


Address: 121 S Bridge Street
City: Grand Ledge State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Eaton
Notes: AKA Grand Ledge Opera House, Sackett's, Riverside Rink, Mapes Furniture
View on Google Maps  
Open: 1884 Closed: Capacity:  
Owner: Unknown
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 7024
 
 

1/22/2004 - Michigans Historical Markers
Constructed in 1884 as a roller skating rink, this building was purchase by Peter Blake and opened as Blake's Opera House in 1886. Here audiences enjoyed talent shows, vaudeville, silent movies and athletic contests. Between 1928 and 1984, the Stephens and Mapes families used the building as a furniture store. The Mapes family donated the building for a community center. It was restored by the Grand Ledge Historical Society and the chamber of commerce.

2/13/2003 - Michigans Historic Sites Online
Blakes Opera House is a two-story, rectangular clapboarded, gable-roof building located at the corner of South Bridge and River Streets near the south end of the M-100 bridge over the Grand River in Grand Ledge. Measuring 40 feet wide by 150 feet long, the opera house consists of two sections, including a two-story cross-gabled addition anchored onto the rear by a one-story connector. The main western facade has a false front with a semi-circular pediment and a bracketed cornice. Forming the entrance on this facade is a double door with a rectangular transom light and a flanking pair of four-over-four double-hung windows. The lateral faces exhibit a series of similar windows.

The added two-story, gable-roof building at the east end follows the simple Victorian styling of the main building. Flaunting a sequence of six double doors embedded in a wall of custom split stone, the refurbished basement level, currently houses office spaces and conference rooms and opens out onto a terrace with a beautiful view of the Grand River. The rear addition features a one-story wrap-around veranda with a spindled balustrade. During the restoration a brick addition was removed, additional roof trusses were added and a basement was excavated the length of the building to support the sagging floor.

Seeking to capitalize on the prospering Grand Ledge resort trade, Joel L. McPeek, an area businessman, and Edgar Marvin, a pioneer photographer, hired Russell F. Tinkham to build the Riverside Rink at 121 South Bridge Street in 1884. One of the first roller rinks in the area, the Riverside Rink opened on August 15, 1884.

After a year in operation, McPeek sold his interest in the business to Peter Blake, owner of an Eaton County cheese factory. Within months, Blake bought out Marvins share to become sole proprietor of the rink in 1886. Later that same year on March 12, the Grand Ledge Independent revealed Blakes plans to convert the skating rink into an opera house. Blake commissioned Charles LaFont, a scenic artist from New York City, to construct the portable stage and scenery painted on rolls of canvas suspended from the ceiling, while Tenie Rall, a local craftsman, adorned the walls and ceiling with decorative paperhanging.

With the Mackley-Salisbury Comedy Company as its featured act, Blakes Opera House opened on May 12, 1886, and signaled the start of the Golden Age of Grand Ledge. In 1976 the former opera house, dubbed Heritage Hall, was the Bicentennial Committees headquarters. In 1984 the Mapes family, who had purchased the building and used it as a furniture store, donated the structure to the Grand Ledge Area Historical Society to house its growing historical collection. Shortly thereafter, the building was donated to the Opera House Authority who wanted to restore the structure.

Since completion of the restoration, the opera house has been used for class reunions, weddings, senior citizen events, auctions, crafts shows, conferences and seminars, as a visitors information center and as chamber of commerce offices. Architect Fred Dawe, from the firm of Stein, Winkle, Dawe, Wood & Johnson, Ltd. , in Lansing, headed the restoration project.

Blakes Opera House - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO

© 2020 Water Winter Wonderland. All rights reserved.  Over  48,200,419  Served