Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 7, 1996, page 16
If you’ve been in downtown Albion recently, you’ve noticed some major construction going on in the building that used to house Henry’s Fashion Shop and Vaughn’s Women’s Wear at 223-225 S. Superior St. This is the Albion Opera House building, and the ground floor is being renovated to house a dental office on the south, with rental facilities on the north.
Up above however, are the remains of the Albion Opera House, which was in existence during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A staircase which led up to the Opera House from Superior St. is being restored as part of the renovation project, and plans call for the eventual possible restoration of a beautiful 2nd floor balcony which once stood on the outside of the structure.
The Albion Opera House building was erected in 1868-69 by Theron Soule and George N. Davis. The stage measured 30 x 48 feet, and 18 feet high. The facility seated 500 persons. The Albion Opera House was used for traveling musical groups, local talent plays, lectures, theatrical groups, political and social meetings, and even wrestling shows and other sporting events. A later owner of the building, druggist Hadley H. Sheldon, added Vaudeville to the repertoire, and the remains of old show posters can still be seen plastered on the backstage walls.
The Albion Opera House was once so popular that young men used to perch themselves in tall stately elm trees on S. Superior St. in front of the building for a free peek. The building was declared a fire hazard in 1918 and closed, although it occasionally reopened in the 1920s for plays produced by Albion High School students.
It is good to see the first floor being renovated, and perhaps someday the owners can tackle the job of restoring the Opera House facility itself. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1976 photograph of the remains of the stage area. This photograph, along with another one, appears on page 102 of my book, “A History of the Albion,” which [Internet update: IS NOW SOLD OUT AND UNAVAILABLE].
Albion Opera House in 1976
Next: CASS STREET BRIDGE
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic