The Calumet Theatre celebrates 120th anniversary

Local News

CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) — On March 20th, 1900, The Calumet Theatre opened it’s doors for the public to enjoy entertainment like they never saw before.

“This theatre has seen a lot of history,” said Marlin Lee, Executive Director, Calumet Theatre.

“When it was opened, the A-list artists across the board in entertainment came here. Douglas Fairbanks Senior, Lon Chaney Senior, Sarah Bernhardt, Frank Morgan, who played the Wizard in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ all performed here.”

During the copper boom, Calumet was home to over 30,000 people, making it a lively town in the middle of the copper country.

The Calumet Theatre holds 700 people, which is closer to Calumet’s current population.

“The Theatre over a period of years has had some renovations done. It was kind of in disarray and disrepair in the 70s’, the non-profit was formed back in the 80s’ to try and rebuild the theatre. It’s an ongoing thing, week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year thing to repair the roof and the stage,” said Lee.

“We’re so appreciative of generous donations from folks, theatre patrons, ticket-buying public because all of those things along with so government assisting grants is what allows us to maintain the upkeep of the building and continued to produce outstanding productions and presentations on this stage.”

One of the first municipal-owned and operated theatres in America, The Calumet Theatre is one of three theatres that is associated with the National Park Service, along with the Wolf Trap in New York, Fords Theatre in Washington D.C.

“It’s kind of an amazing thing throughout all the history of 120 years, world wars, recessions, depressions, epidemics, pandemics, and that this theatre is still standing and still doing the same job it was built for in 2020.”

While The Calumet Theatre is putting its anniversary party on hold, Marlin hopes people will keep this living landmark in mind.

“We were set on March 20th, which is our anniversary date to reveal our season’s schedule,” said Lee.

“We have a pretty elaborate video presentation that we were going to present initially on stage that night. We obviously had to post-pone that performance and so forth. Our plan is to release our season’s schedule online within the next week and to have ticket sales.”

Lee hopes the public will still purchase tickets for future events, even during this pandemic.

“We’re hoping folks will think like us and be positive and optimistic that they’ll buy some tickets online, which will be available after the announcement for shows down the road. There is no doubt that we are going to have to cancel or postpone some stuff early in our schedule and we pray for the best that come May, June, July, that once again, this theatre will be open for business and we’ll be presenting some great shows for the world to enjoy.”

Marlin and the Calumet Theatre want to ensure that this theatre sticks around for another 120 years.

“It’s such an important part of the Keweenaw and the Copper Country and so many people have some great memories and affection for this theatre, that’s our goal is to keep this going for another 120 years.”

For more information on the Calumet Theatre, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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