The Croswell Opera House is planning to begin work on its $6.2 million renovation project next spring, but the 2016 Summer Broadway Season will still take place on-site as the theater celebrates its 150th anniversary.
“Up until now, we had discussed some possible target dates, but we hadn’t set anything in stone,” said Emory Schmidt, president of the Croswell’s board of directors. “Now we have a firm enough idea of both our fundraising timetable and our construction needs that we feel comfortable laying out this timeline.”
The timeline calls for the front lobby and the building containing the Heritage Room and rehearsal space to be shut down in the spring, while the auditorium will remain open through the summer. Work on the auditorium will begin in fall 2016, with a projected reopening date of spring 2017.
The Croswell had considered trying to start construction this fall, but a number of factors led to deciding on a spring start date instead.
The Croswell is one of several downtown entities included in a façade grant submitted by the city of Adrian to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Although that grant is proceeding through the state’s approval process, the process still takes time, in addition to which state law requires a public comment period during which no work on the building could happen. As a result, the construction start date would have been pushed into early November.
“We discussed trying to begin work this fall, but with the size of the project and the uncertainty of winter weather, we felt it was better to wait,” Croswell artistic director Jere Righter said. “Among other things, we wanted to make sure we could plan on celebrating our 150th anniversary with a full season of summer shows right here in our building.”
Fundraising for the project is going well, Righter added, with $2.6 million in pledges received so far. In addition, a crowdfunding campaign aimed at securing a $50,000 match from the state toward the Heritage Room portion of the project is about one-third of the way to its goal, with just under four weeks remaining until the deadline.
During summer 2016, the Croswell will make alternate arrangements for entering the auditorium, as well as for restrooms.
“There is no convenient way to renovate a 150-year-old building, but we’re going to make everything as easy and comfortable as possible for our patrons,” Righter said.
The construction timetable also means that the Croswell will offer a full 2015-16 Special Event Season over the fall, winter and spring, and that the Christmas show, “Handel’s Messiah Rocks,” will take place at the Croswell instead of at Madison High School.
Righter said the Special Event Season will be announced in the next few weeks.
“We’ll have a mixture of musicals, plays and concerts, including our all-area high school musical and our children’s production,” she said.
Because the renovations will have an impact on the Croswell for the next 100 years or more, Righter said the most important thing about the construction timetable is making sure there’s enough time to do everything correctly.
“We’d start yesterday if we could,” she said. “That’s how excited we are about this effort. But this is a critical project for the future of the Croswell, so the most important thing is that we take the time to really do the job right.”