Croswell Opera House receives $1 million donationWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Croswell Opera House in Adrian recently received a $1 million donation that will go toward a new round of renovations to the 147-year-old historic landmark.
Real estate developers George and Julia Argyros of Southern California donated the money Oct. 3 during a luncheon with Croswell staff and board members at the theater.
The couple has ties to the area. Julia grew up in Adrian and graduated from Adrian High School in 1958. She has fond memories of the Croswell as a theater student, acting in her first play at the Croswell in ninth grade, said Jere Righter, Croswell’s artistic director.
Their intentions for the donation are to “preserve the heritage of the Croswell Opera House and allow future generations to enjoy this beautiful community treasure,” Julia Argyros said in a news release.
The Croswell is now in the development phase of a capital campaign project to bring the theater further up to date. The money will be used toward future renovations, Righter said.
“We were hoping [the Argyroses] would support the campaign. And [in regard to] the ‘when and where and how much,’ we were pleasantly surprised,” Righter said. “The gift is just the beginning of what we’re going to need because it’s all expensive stuff.”
The Croswell’s capital campaign, which hasn’t officially kicked off yet, now has $1.2 million in funds, according to a news release. The goal is $3.5 million, Righter said.
“We don’t have [renovation] plans yet. We’re just in the conversation stage about it. But eventually we will. [We] envision major renovations.”
The women’s bathrooms need to be updated because women stand in line up to 25 minutes, Righter said. The box office also needs fixing because patrons have to wait outside when waiting in line for a ticket. The lighting and sound could use a technology upgrade to improve production values.
Other changes are planned to the Heritage Room to allow for small performances and cabarets while a production is happening on the main stage, Righter said.
The most important aspects to maintain are the patrons’ quality experience and a quality production, Righter said.
“We want everyone to feel warmly welcomed in our building, and we want to provide them with a comfortable and warm environment,” Righter said.
The Croswell has been entertaining residents of Lenawee County and the surrounding areas since 1866. It was named an official Michigan Historic Site in 1976 and in the 1980s was recognized as the “oldest continuously operating theater in Michigan, and third oldest in the United States,” according to the Croswell’s website. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s.
The theater began in the 1860s with concerts, lectures, vaudeville acts, minstrel shows and educational activities. Some legendary historical figures have graced the stage, including Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and Edwin Booth, according to the website.
The Croswell was a movie theater from 1920-67. It was scheduled to be demolished in 1967, but the Adrian Foundation stepped in and saved the building.
Today, the Croswell produces plays and musicals through its Broadway season from May to December. It also hosts concerts, children’s shows, comedy, dueling pianos and more, Righter said.
“It’s really about improving our patrons’ services,” Righter said of the fundraising efforts. “I would just want to make sure we serve our patrons the best way we can.”
Tags: Adrian, Adrian Foundation, Croswell Opera House, Edwin Booth, Frederick Douglass, Heritage Room, Lenawee County, Michigan Historic Site, Real estate developers George and Julia Argyros of Southern California, Register of Historic Places, Susan B. Anthony