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Kalamazoo State Theatre 'honored' to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Kalamazoo State Theatre
Posted at 5:11 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 09:26:49-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo State Theatre has been added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

It joins more than 95,000 other properties across the country.

If you were to have sat in the theatre back in 1927 when it opened and then now, you wouldn't notice very many changes.

Now that it has made the official list, the preservation will continue so people can enjoy all it offers far into the future.

"It is a huge honor. There is only about 2,000 places in Michigan. It has been around since 1960, so it is a huge honor not only for us but I think for this community and Kalamazoo as well," said the Kalamazoo State Theatre Director of Marketing and Development Harry Phillips.

The Kalamazoo State Theatre (KST) has been a part of the Kalamazoo community for over 90 years.

"It was built in 1927 by Colonel Butterfield. He owned it until right about 1980. This is what you call an "Eberson Atmospheric Theatre". Eberson was an architect and built some theatres like this around the country. We are now one of 17 left in the country of those styles of theatres," said Phillips.

It's the architecture that captivates most of its viewers, mimicking a Spanish courtyard making you feel like you're outside.

KST officials said back in the '80s the theatre was almost turned into a parking lot until it was purchased by the Hinman Company.

"The whole interior is pretty much original. Now some of the colors, the paints and that has been redone, but there was an extensive project when Hinman purchased the building to try to restore things to the original colors," said Phillips.

Plus, the theatre is home to an original Barton Theatre Organ.

This isn't the first time the theatre could have received the title, being offered it in the '80s with the original owner turning it down.

The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the city of Kalamazoo played a big part in getting that honor now.

"Really one of the biggest things is they want to see you’re representing that historic place that you hold in the community. You’re representing something unique or significant in your community even to be recognized. It is not just being old, you have to actually represent something," said Phillips.

KST said the title could also bring potential funding and grants to help with some costs as needed. While they're proud to be on the list, they said it's not just for them.

"I think it is a great honor for the city of Kalamazoo and a great honor for the state of Michigan that we have places like this that are worth recognizing in that way on that registry," said Phillips.

If you're interested in seeing the Kalamazoo State Theatre, it offers tours throughout the week and weekend.

People interested can also attend live performances. Click here for a schedule and ticket information.