May 23rd, 2013
The Ramona Theater had stood so long it couldn't be dismantled. Wreckers wanted to salvage the steel roof beams, but the huge wooden pillars supporting them were rotten. How could they finish the project?
The Ramona Theater had stood so long it couldn’t be dismantled. Wreckers wanted to salvage the steel roof beams, but the huge wooden pillars supporting them were rotten. It was unsafe for workmen to climb up and loosen the steel supports. Instead, they hitched cables to the pillars and pulled them out from under the roof. It came down with one last, grand crash.
That happened in the fall of 1949. The end of the landmark created ample nostalgia for the spectators who came to watch as the structure was torn down. Some witnessing that sad end may have attended the christening of the theater on July 19, 1897. Thousands had attended that celebration.
The name Ramona was chosen through a contest by the Street Railway Company who owned the theater. The prize for the winning name was $5. There were six contest winners, and it was left to the winners to decide whether they wanted to split the money or draw lots for it.
Early in the century Will Rogers, Chic Sale, and Rosa Ponselle were just a few of the notables who appeared at the Ramona. In later years Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Buster Keaton, and Danny Kaye entertained local audiences.
Perhaps no other institution epitomized the “good old days” so well as the Ramona. It was fitting that the theater fell with a bang, and not a whimper.
|WYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; Ramona Theater; demolition
|May 23rd, 2013