Tibbits Opera House

14 S. Hanchett Street,
Coldwater, MI 49036

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Tibbits Opera House

Opened on September 21, 1882 with a performance of “Maid of Arran”. The architect was Mortimer L. Smith who designed the theatre in a French Empire style. It has a red brick facade and inside the auditorium seating is located on the main floor (350 seats), second level (130 seats) and third level (87 seats) in the horseshoe shaped auditorium.

Used over the years for drama, vaudeville, minstrel shows, opera, concerts, lectures, dances, wrestling and also it was converted into a movie theatre. Stars who have appeared on stage include; Ethel Barrymore, Joseph Jefferson, Eddie Foy and Maude Adams.

It has undergone restoration and is currently in use as an arts center for concerts and live performances.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2007 at 3:51 pm

The Tibbets Opera House is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide, an annual for roadshow managers. It’s listed as “Tibbet’s Opera House”. The seating capacity is given as 823, and admission prices were 25 cents to 75 cents. John T. Jackson was the Mgr. The house had both gas and electric illumination; the proscenium opening was 30 feet square. The stage was 40 feet deep. The theatre was on the ground floor and there were 7 in the house orchestra. Hotels for showfolk in Coldwater were the Southern Michigan, Arlington, Brunswick and the Ward House. Newspapers were the Times, Republican, Courier, Sun and Star. The local railroad was the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern. The 1892 population of Coldwater was 7,000.

CSWalczak on May 2, 2007 at 2:18 pm

It’s now used primarily as a community arts center. I lived in the Coldwater area from 1970-85, and it always seemed to be in a perpetual state of being renovated. It’s also known for its summer theater season, (but don’t get me started on what I thought of some of those productions). This website:


has a picture of it when it was a movie theater during the period of approximately 1930-1954.

CSWalczak on July 27, 2007 at 4:41 pm

The picture of the Tibbits as a movie house that I referenced earlier is now at: http://www.tibbits.org/history.htm

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