The Ledges Playhouse in Fitzgerald Park
Spiritualists came to Grand Ledge in 1895 to hold summer camp meetings in the woods by Sandstone Creek and the Grand River. About that year local carpenter John Rosenberger built a large pavilion to hold lectures and seances. The large open structure was much like the casino built on Third Island at about this time. The spiritualists used this camp for about fifteen years. After 1910, the camp and pavilion were home to Free Methodists summer meetings.
In 1919 the City bought the property and created Riverside Park. The pavilion saw many uses, as a skating rink, dance hall, and general community meeting place. In 1943 it briefly served as the site of a factory. In 1955 the Grand Ledge Improvement Association was formed to find a new use for the building. A summer theater seemed the answer, and Dr Gordon Horrod led the effort to convert the building into a summer theater. A new floor and stage were built, and seating from the old Capital Theater in downtown Lansing was installed.
In 1956 Ledge’s Playhouse was born. Bill Slout from Vermontville, formed the Slout Players when he came here to open the playhouse. The Slouts left in 1961, and then the theater was used by Harold Hanson and Lael Woodbury, from Utah, for a few seasons. In 1966 John Peakes and Richard Thomsen came to Grand Ledge and formed Boarshead Theater. Boarshead used the summer theater until 1975 when they found a permanent year-round home in Lansing. After sitting empty for several years, Len Kluge and Bob Robinson formed the Spotlight Actors Workshop in 1983. Spotlight provided local summer theater to Grand Ledge until 2003. In 2006 the City leased the theatre to Kevin Burnham and Tanya Canady-Burnham who formed the Capital Theaterworks.
In 2000 Spotlight theatre became worried about the condition of the old pavilion and turned to the community for help. The organization Spotlight on the Spotlight was formed (now the Ledge’s Playhouse Restoration Committee) in partnership with the City, The Chamber of Commerce, Eaton County Parks Department, and the Historical Society.
A fund-raising campaign is underway to fund the structural, electrical, painting and other repairs needed for this historic building. Donations are gratefully accepted. For more information contact us or call John Herbstreit at 517-627-8594.