Many Michigan towns and cities had their own opera house...but did all these places really have actual operas appearing in their towns?

During the 1800s, large theaters were built and given the name 'opera house', even if opera was never going to be performed there. So why name it 'opera house'? It was believed if it was given that title, it would seem more respectable than 'vaudeville' or 'movie' theater. So many towns named their new buildings 'opera houses' in an attempt to satisfy the tongue-wagging of the local gossips who looked down and despised those “immoral” movies and vaudeville.

A typical opera house is not unlike movie houses throughout the 1900s: audience seating, backstage dressing rooms for live performers, orchestra pit, and stage. Many towns have a downtown area that was referred to as the 'opera block' or 'opera house block', where the theater was part of the main downtown block...even sometimes when there wasn't a theater, just a large building. The term “opera” was believed to give the block more prestige.

99.1 WFMK logo
Get our free mobile app

Many old opera houses have been turned into town halls, or regular movie theaters. Some even made into apartment buildings, or have been town down altogether.

The gallery below has fifty images of many of Michigan's former opera houses. Most of them were so ornate, it's a shame that a majority of them were unceremoniously torn down. Have a look at a good number of these grand places...

Vintage Opera Houses of Michigan


Vintage Michigan Kresge Stores

Vintage Michigan Airports

Vintage Hamburger Diners and Michigan's First Drive-in Restaurant

More From 99.1 WFMK