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Fine Arts Council & Opera House
Opera House ConstructionFor the past one hundred years, the Fayette Opera House has stood near the corner of Main and Fayette Street. Built in 1889 and 1899 during the administration of William McKinley and during the Spanish American War, the building has played an important role in the region through the administration of 19 presidents, six wars, and the Great Depression.
The Opera House was built during the age of horses and steam. Today it is planning for its role into the space and information age. When built, the Fayette Opera House was one of the cultural and educational institutions that set Fayette apart from other communities throughout the region. Near the end of the 19th century, Fayette was a growing community. Located on the Toledo and Western Rail Road and just south of the Michigan Southern Railroad, the village offered several amenities that were unavailable in other communities within the region. The town boasted an eighth grade school, a thriving business district and residential community and was home of the Fayette Normal College of Music and Business that later became Fayette Normal University.
Original UseThe Opera House was built for approximately $4,000 and housed (on the first floor) village offices, shops, the jail, and later the fire department. The upstairs was dedicated for the use of spectator and community events. Live touring theater, as well as locally produced events were staged and the facility later became the community's first basketball court. Performers such as the Tennessee Boys' Choir and Jefferson performed on its stage and the University used the facility for its Lyceum Courses and graduation ceremonies.
The Opera House's use declined after the Second World War and the building was sold for commercial use. By the late 60s, the commercial venture was discontinued and the structure was used as a warehouse. Located in the heart of the village and surrounded by empty storefronts, the Opera House was the lone remaining structure which represented the early growth period of the community and its' renovation was considered as pivotal to the renaissance of the community's business district.