COLDWATER – Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, through a grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation, has commissioned Tom Roberts Architect LLC to complete a Historic Structures Report (HSR) on the Tibbits Opera House, built in 1882.
While Tibbits completed exterior restoration including the beautiful French Second Empire façade in 2013, the interior still looks mostly as it did when saved from demolition in the 1960s. The renovation at that time allowed the building to open and service the community, but was not historically accurate. In 2014 the theatre, while making necessary repairs to the ceiling in the auditorium, commissioned a sample of the original paint colors as defined in an earlier study. The strip of decorative paint extends from the center of the dome, across the ceiling and down one half of the stage right box seats. It acts as a reminder to audiences there is more to be done.
The HSR is a valuable working document that defines significant elements of an building and the appropriate treatment they should receive. The National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior considers it an effective part of preservation planning and “an important guide for all changes to a historic property during a project—repair, rehabilitation, or restoration—and can also provide information for maintenance procedures.”
The Jeffris Family Foundation is dedicated to the Midwest’s cultural history and heritage through preserving regionally and nationally historic buildings and decorative arts projects. They focus on buildings in small communities and support planning studies like the HSR in order to assure quality restoration and rehabilitation projects.
According to Tibbits Executive Director Christine Delaney, “We all hope to one day see the theatre fully restored. This is another step in the planning process.”
Tom Roberts and his team have begun studying all elements of the theatre. Their work is expected to continue through the summer with the final report presented to Tibbits Board and Building Committee in the fall.
Tibbits Opera House is located at 14 South Hanchett Street in Coldwater, Michigan. For more information or to make a donation call the theatre at 517-278-6029 or visit www.Tibbits.org.