Submitted by scott on Thu, 04/02/2020 - 21:45
42° 57' 59" N , 85° 40' 12" W

Powers’ Theatre

A historic timeline of the Powers’:
Opera House Block 1874–1979
Powers’ Opera House (1874),
Powers’ Grand Opera House (1887),
Powers’ Theatre (1902–44),
Foto News (1944–48),
Midtown Theatre (1948–1972),
Civic Theatre (Under Renovation 1975–1977),
Demolished (Jan 1979)

From the hottest spot in town to see the latest celebrities of stage and screen to a parking lot. We’ll explore what made Powers’ a household name and earned the phrase; “Who’s Playing at Powers’?” to it’s demise and urban renewal of the late-1970s. History of Power’s Theatre wouldn’t be complete without incorporating history of the other venues of entertainment for stage and screen in Grand Rapids. Powers’ set the foundation for legitimate theatre in West Michigan. 

Mark Twain and George W. Cable spoke here December 13, 1884 

Promotional Ad and Review provided by the Grand Rapids Public Library
Daily Morning Democrat,
December 13 and 14, 1884

Image:  A wintery Campau Square looking east up Pearl Street from Monroe with Powers Opera House Block left of center. In the photo above notice the two-story electric street lamp at the entrance of the Powers Opera House. It replaced an ornate three-globed gas street lamp sometime after William T. Powers installed the first electric lights in Grand Rapids 1881. It was one of the first electric street lamps to light Grand Rapids. In the early days of theatre it was customary to light the entrance with a single or double ornate lamp post long before the days of the lit marquee. The only building still recognizable is the Rood Block where Flanagan’s Irish Pub is located built in 1873.

Photo circa 1883 (The Houseman Block was under construction in 1883 at the corner of Pearl and Ottawa). Prospect Hill can still be seen where the Waters Building stands today. A gas street lamp graces the entrance of the Arcade. The building immediately east of the opera house was the Metropolitan Hall, built by William T. Powers, at 57 Pearl Street.  It was often requested for popular gatherings, and for dancing assemblies. It opened with a dedicatory performance of a children’s dress carnival on Thursday 30 December 1880. In later years it became one of the early bowling alleys scattered throughout downtown. By 1956 Metropolitan Hall is razed for a B.T. Parking Lot. It later becomes one of first Ellis Parking lots.