Patronicity Resources Logo
Case Study: The Croswell Opera House

Case Study: The Croswell Opera House

The Croswell wanted to create a space within the theater to allow for regular community use by activating an underused space.

Established in 1866, the Croswell Opera House is the oldest theater in Michigan and one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States. The theater is a critical piece in preserving Adrian’s cultural heritage, a building that has played a pivotal role in the community’s history, with programming that’s in line with the building’s original purpose.

“I want the Croswell to be a place that people would think of for not just live theater but I want it to be what it always was, a place for everybody where there is something for everyone.” - Jere Righter, Artistic Director of the Croswell Opera House
The Croswell Opera House with a lighted marquee
The Croswell Opera House

The Croswell hosts professional-caliber productions in a comfortable community theater setting. The high-quality of the productions draws patrons from around southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio. The Croswell also provides educational experiences for area youth interested in the performing arts by exposing them to high standards and giving them an opportunity to work with accomplished professionals in their field.

The Croswell wanted to create a space within the theater to allow for regular community use, activating an underused space in the front facade and bringing the building to its former use. Before The Croswell was a theater it functioned as the Union Hall, a multi-use gathering space in town for everything from political speeches to livestock auctions. The Union Hall hosted revolutionary speakers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Edison, and Elizabeth Kady Stanton.

The goal with this new community space was to bring it back to a similar use of function. This was a part of a much larger renovation to create a public facing facade and connect with the existing streetscape in Downtown Adrian. They came up with the idea for the Heritage Room, a space that has regular public hours and hosts weekly events such as trivia, yoga, and live music. Using the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s (MEDC) Public Spaces Community Places crowdgranting program, the gathering space was funded well above their goal with 176 donors coming to support this project.

“Now people feel so invested in this space, which I think has helped contribute to its success. Donors take pride in coming in and saying, ‘This is the place we donated to,’ and that contributes to the success and use of our space.” - Jere Righter, Artistic Director of the Croswell Opera House

The Croswell renovation is an anchor that encouraged reinvestment in Downtown Adrian, incentivizing restaurants and businesses to open up Downtown that knew the space would bring audiences of people to patronize the area.

Project Details

  • Project: The Croswell Opera House
  • Project Type: Community Centers and Venues
  • Project Location: Adrian, Michigan
  • Crowdfunding Raise: $54,047
  • Crowdgranting Match: $50,000
  • Patrons: 176
  • Leveraged Funding: $193,288
  • Total Project Estimate: $298,388

About Public Spaces Community Places

Public Spaces Community Places (PSCP) is our crowdgranting partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). This crowdgranting initiative provides matching grant funds to eligible projects that improve public space in the state of Michigan. Projects can receive a matching grant of up to $50,000 if they reach their crowdfunding goal.

Get Access