COLDWATER (WTVB) - He’s back where he belongs. Shakespeare, adorned in gold paint, rose to the top niche on the front of the Tibbits Opera House Wednesday afternoon. About 40 people gathered in the parking lot across from the theatre in Coldwater to watch as Charles Burr, Tibbits artistic director, placed the statue into its home. Burr called it a pretty monumental event, considering he’d been hoping for 30 years, ever since he walked into the theater, to have the day arrive that the theatre would be restored and Shakespeare placed back on top.
A donation by Burr funded the statue as part of the theatre’s “Down to the Details” fundraising campaign. Other details of the effort include the scrollwork on either side of Shakespeare’s niche funded by Curt and Ruth Proctor; the eagles on each end of the main arch funded by Doug and Ed Lake; the Coldwater Rotary Club funded scrollwork around the center window and Brian and Nancy Nunemaker funding the scrollwork around the side windows. With Shakespeare in place crews will begin taking down the scaffold which has covered the entire front of the building and wrapped around its sides for the past six months. Passers-by and patrons who have struggled to see the progress through the scaffolding will be able to see the exquisite detail of the restored theatre. On hand to film the placement of Shakespeare was Mike Mort owner of Equity Studios who has been filming the entire process for a documentary on the restoration effort. The work has been done by Grand River Builders and Owen-Ames-Kimball. They’ve worked through the sweltering heat and are truly showing their impeccable craftsmanship and attention to detail as they bring back one of Michigan’s exemplary pieces of architecture. When the scaffolding went up in February Tibbits was a quarter of a million dollars away from completing everything. Through penny drives at the schools, pink flamingos in yards, naming opportunities of details on the façade and the legacy of pavers for the front terrace fundraising is only $50,000 away from the total funds needed. The last of the scaffold will be down the week of August 27 at which time crews will begin demolition of the stairs and ramp and the construction of the terrace. Construction crews will be working closely with the City of Coldwaterand the Board of Public Utilities who will be redoing the streetscape to compliment the newly restored Tibbits façade. The terrace work should be completed by November 1 in time for Tibbits’ Annual Auction. Through the winter scaffold will go back up to complete the work on the exterior balcony. Projected completion is February 2013. Funding opportunities still available include the pair of griffins and the cresting on the roof, the lady lights that adorn the balcony and sponsorships of the documentary. For more information or to make a donation contact Tibbits at 517-278-6029 or at www.Tibbits.org.