The Lady Lights are back! The newly restored façade of the historic Tibbits Opera House with its elegant balcony was adorned with two sculpted female figures holding globe lights—for about two months. Early last summer the base of one of the lights broke and while the sculpture didn’t fall, she was listing severely. Both fixtures were removed immediately.
A glued seam in the granite did not withstand the weather and the base broke in half. While it was quickly repaired the team working on the Tibbits restoration were concerned the same could happen to the second fixture. They began looking at the entire structure of the base and sculpture with a very critical eye. All of the decisions on materials and techniques of the Tibbits façade were made with the objective of longevity. The original bases, though beautiful, showed flaws which would affect the longevity of the statues.
After much deliberation and multiple concepts a new base was designed. Decorative legs that held the original bases were totally eliminated since they provided a potential weak point and were not even visible to any except the birds. The new bases were created out of solid pieces of granite stacked together. A steel rod extends through the sculptures, through the new eight inch granite base and then through the balcony frame.
The ladies are now strong and secure and should be able to withstand even Michigan’s fiercest weather. So if you’re one of the many who has been snapping photos of the grand old Tibbits Opera House, you just have to come back and get some new pics. The ladies are poised and ready.
Thank you again to the entire design team who worked on Tibbits restoration. Every one of them put Tibbits first at every step and with every decision during the design and construction process.
Those involved in the rehab of the ladies…Tom Roberts, Architect; Owen-Ames-Kimball; Grand River Builders; Bohnet Electric, Kaiser Electric, and Tibbits Building committee: Keith Baker, Mike Beckwith, Cameron Brown, Dave Brown, Christine Delaney, Rick Merrill
The crew from Kaiser Electric including Jim White, Glenn Raymond and Lance Pierson reinstalled the Lady Lights on the balcony of the Tibbits Opera House.