Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 3, 2014

New marquee proposed for historic building

TRAVERSE CITY — A proposal to add a large marquee to the front of the historic 1891 City Opera House caught a neighboring business owner by surprise.

City Opera House Heritage Association members asked city commissioners for permission to add what they have termed a “marquee” that extends 15 feet from the Opera House entrance on East Front Street. Drawings show a structure more accurately described as a portico designed to reflect the 19th Century character of the building.

Phil Anderson’s first reaction to the idea of a marquee was “horrible,” as he pictured a movie house marquee similar to the State Theatre. The owner of Diversions hat store said he’ll reserve judgement until he sees drawings but was still surprised the association wanted to add an addition to the historic building.

“It doesn’t seem in keeping with the Opera House history because it was never here,” Anderson said. “It seems like a reversal of the things they have been doing with the renovation.”

Most association members contacted by the Record-Eagle either declined comment or did not return phone calls on Friday. Diane Baribeau, who manages the facility under a contract with the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, said they would be putting out a press release.

Thom Darga, a member of the association board and a developer who is helping oversee the construction and design of the marquee, said the purpose of the marquee is to “generate a sense of arrival.”

The proposed structure would extend 15 feet over the sidewalk and require the removal of one street tree and relocation of a street lamp. It would cover the entire 25-foot-length of the Opera House ground-floor entrance but the sides would angle in, reducing the width at the front of the marquee which would be supported by two posts.

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