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Tibbits celebration concert, Sept. 17, 2012.
Posted: Sept. 20, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.
COLDWATER – With the backdrop of the Tibbits Opera House, showcasing the exquisite restoration already completed as well as the construction still in progress, donors to the capital campaign celebrated the theater's 130th birthday with a concert and an announcement of a $50,000 gift to take the funding over the top.
The Teeter Family made the gift in memory of Howard and Marion Teeter to complete the funding for the facade work. Campaign co-chair Ken Delaney said gifts from Howard Teeter as well as co-chair Mary Smith seeded the entire restoration effort 12 years ago and helped fund the initial studies as well as the elevator and handicap-accessibility needs. Smith said later, Howard Teeter was also instrumental in the effort to save the theater more than 50 years ago.
In making the gift, the family said, "We are very pleased to help Tibbits complete the final pieces in the facade restoration. The community support for this project has been inspiring. Tibbits is an institution that three generations of our family have enjoyed attending and we are proud to help it continue to prosper in the years ahead."
A crowd of about 120 people gathered Monday in the parking lot across from Tibbits to enjoy a concert by The Haskells, a local music group who performed until dusk on a stage set up in the street in front of the theater. The celebration included food catered by the Branch Area Career Center. "We had the concert outside so donors could see and really take pride in this magnificent building they are helping restore," said Christine Delaney, Tibbits executive director.
When scaffold went up in February, the project still needed $250,000. Lori Gunthorp, Tibbits special events coordinator, noted the funding has come through from the "Down to the Details" campaign, through the sale of pavers, through penny drives in the schools, and through flamingo flocking. Flamingos were on hand in case anyone wanted to take home a souvenir of the retired birds.
Ken Delaney noted the celebration was just an intermediate event to say thank you. He thanked the executive committee, the building committee, staff and the board of directors. He added, "We've been working with great companies from our architect to the construction companies to our local firms. We’ve been blessed with a wonderful supportive community, all of you who have believed in Tibbits."
He invited everyone to save the date of April 27, 2013, saying, "We'll gather for the big celebration with all of the acknowledgements, recognition and dedications and the world premiere of the documentary being made about the preservation of the Tibbits Opera House."
The final elements of the facade to be added with the Teeter gift include decorative cresting along the roof and two lady statues with lights which will adorn the corners of the exterior balcony. Additional funds will allow restoration to continue on other parts of the building.
For more information or to find out ways you can support the opera house contact Tibbits at 517-278-6029.
About Tibbits Opera House
Tibbits Opera House officially opened Sept. 21, 1882 with a performance of "Maid of Aaron." Barton Smith Tibbits presented to the community an opera house that he built to be second to none for a community the size of Coldwater. Tibbits is the second oldest operating opera house in Michigan and one of only a few dozen still surviving in the United States.