COLDWATER – One of Branch County’s architectural gems received additional recognition as the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, has listed the Tibbits Opera House in the National Register of Historic Places.
With the completion in 2013 of the restoration of the original 1882 French Second Empire façade, Tibbits began the process to get the building listed. Historically, it has been a contributing building in the Coldwater Downtown Historic District listing on the National Register. However, the building was denied its own listing in the 1980s because of the loss of its original exterior architectural character.
Architect Debra Johnson completed the application with materials prepared by Tibbits Executive Director Christine Delaney and additional research provided by Eastern Michigan University Historic Preservation Program graduate student Belinda McGuire.
Nominations of Michigan properties are made by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), part of Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, as well as the City of Coldwater were notified May 1 of the listing. Coldwater City Manager, Keith Baker said, “Coldwater benefits from the unique character provided by its historic buildings. We’re very happy Tibbits Opera House has been listed. It’s great for the theatre and it’s another boost for our community.”
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources significant in our collective history and worthy of preservation. According to SHPO, listing on the National Register allows consideration in the planning for federal-assisted projects; provides eligibility for federal tax benefits; qualifies properties for federal assistance for historic preservation, when funds are available; serves as a catalyst for economic development; and promotes heritage tourism.”
Information on the National Register and related SHPO program can be found at Michigan.gov/shpo. Information and history of Tibbits are available in a display at the opera house, at Tibbits.org, or by calling 517.278.6029.