loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Squier's Opera Hall / House

Squier's Opera Hall / House

This was the first regularly appointed theater in Grand Rapids. It stood on the west side of Canal Street (now Monroe Avenue), midway between Erie and Bridge. It was built in 1859 by John W. Squier, and from then until it was destroyed by fire in 1872 was almost constantly in use as a theater, and for lectures and public exhibitions. During that time it was the only appropriately seated, furnished, and equipped theater, and was a popular place of resort. John W. Squier was a native of New Jersey, and in early life lived near Seneca Lake, NY. He came to Washtenaw County in 1834 and to Grand Rapids in 1842. He had built a stone grist mill just a few rods south of Bridge Street in 1842-43, and that building was also destroyed in the fire. Squier was a plain, positive man, but accommodating and genial, “universally known and esteemed throughout this valley” (Baxter, p. 117). The fire which destroyed Squier's buildings on May 8, 1872 broke out in a paint shop on the block about 1 a.m. The whole of the block and the flouring mill in the rear were burned to the ground, but the flames were confined to these buildings. The block was occupied by stores on the ground floor; above was the opera house, and other rooms used as living apartments. First Assistant Engineer Stevens was nearly suffocated by the dense smoke, as were also Chief Engineer Hyde and several others. The loss was heavy, about $55,000. (Sources: Baxter, pp. 117, 424, 568; Carrie B. Jennings, The Grand Rapids Fire Department, History, 1889, p. 59.)

Full Details

TitleSquier's Opera Hall / House
AddressWest Side OF Monroe AVE NW Between Erie AND Bridge 49503
CreatorFather Dennis Morrow
Locationlocation on map

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC