Ramsdell Theatre - Manistee MI

Address: 101 Maple St
City: Manistee
State: MI
Zip: 49660
County: Manistee
Open: 1903
Owner History:
Theater Type: Small Town Movie Palace
Number of visits to this page: 4807

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Source: Michigans Historic Sites Online

The Ramsdell Theatre is a rectangular red brick building topped by a low-pitched hipped-roof with a central dome. The theater building is joined to the adjacent Ramsdell Hall by a campanile tower. The facade is fronted by a projecting bay, fronted by a Doric portico and topped by a triangular pediment with block modillion ornament. Brick quoining, banding, and other Neoclassical designs decorate the exterior. The ornate interior includes oak and leather seats, gilt gold fixtures, and murals in the dome by Walter W. Burridge and Frederic Winthrop Ramsdell, the son of the builder.

The Ramsdell Theatre is among the finest turn-of-the-century small town opera houses in Michigan. The building features a unique movable paint rack, one of the largest grids in the nation, and excellent acoustics. Patron Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell, one of Manistees first lawyers and civic leaders, hired Chicago architect Solon S. Beman to design the opera house and presented it as a gift to the city.

The Ramsdell Theatre opened in 1903 and operated until the 1920s when Butterfield Theaters bought the building for silent film showings. Acoustical difficulties prohibited talking films and the theater intermittently closed until 1943 when the city of Manistee acquired and reopened the building. Since 1963 the city and the Manistee Drama Association have held live productions at the carefully restored theater.

Info Updates:
1/22/2004 - Michigans Historical Markers
Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell--pioneer lawyer,state legislator and civic leader -- built this theatre between 1902 and 1903. Many traveling companies played here and praised the features that made it unique among the playhouses of the era. Theatrical artist Walter Burredge painted the main curtain utilizing the theme "A Grove Near Athens." The dome and lobby murals were the work of Thomas Ramsdell's son Frederick. Public spirited citizens saved the landmark from demolition in the early 1920s. It was acquired by the city of Manistee in 1953. The Manistee Civic Players have helped to preserve its architecture and interior decor. The Ramsdell Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1972.
Ramsdell Theatre - Recent Pic (newer photo)
Recent Pic (newer photo)
Ramsdell Theatre - 1912 From Paul (newer photo)
1912 From Paul (newer photo)
Ramsdell Theatre - 1906 From Paul (newer photo)
1906 From Paul (newer photo)
Ramsdell Theatre - Old Photo (newer photo)
Old Photo (newer photo)
Ramsdell Theatre - Old Photo (newer photo)
Old Photo (newer photo)
Ramsdell Theatre - Historical Marker (newer photo)
Historical Marker (newer photo)
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