arts

THE DETROIT OPERA HOUSE

The Detroit Opera House is an ornate building located in downtown Detroit within the Grand Circus Park Historic District. This building serves as home to the Michigan Opera Theatre as well as numerous other events. The theatre was originally designed by C. Howard Crane who also designed the Fox Theatre, The Fillmore Detroit as well as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall. The original construction was completed in 1922 with an extensive renovation completed in 1996 to bring the building up to today's standards.

The building was originally known as the Capital Theater which at the time was the fifth largest of its kind in the entire world. The theater was constructed with outstanding acoustics while assuming the style of the Grand European Opera houses. The Capital theater was decorated in the Italian Renaissance style with lavish crystal chandeliers, frescoes, marble staircases ,and brass fixtures. Rich rose-red Italian damask was used for the mainstage curtain as well as draperies throughout the house. The majority of these features are still present in the renovated version of the Detroit Opera House.

The Capitol Theater was renamed the Paramount Theater in 1934 and went on to host such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Will Rogers as well as volumes of rock stars of the 1950's. 

After decaying for several years, the theater was repaired and renamed the Grand Circus Theater in 1960 while transforming itself into a movie house. The theater provided a plethora of musical acts such as Ray Charles and Roy Orbison.  The palace closed in 1985 after a small fire.

After being neglected and abandoned for years, the Detroit Opera House was successfully restored in 1996 while assuming the current name with the oversight of the Michigan Opera Theater. While being home to the Michigan Opera Theater, the Opera House also plays host to  some of the world's greatest dance companies.

A special Thanks goes out to Alanna St. Laurent for arranging the private tour to make this experience possible.

DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to getaway for a night absolving myself from the responsibilities and obligations of everyday life. I jumped in the car and headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan which has quickly become one of the fastest growing cities with it's enticing offering of breweries, restaurants and a vibrant art scene. 

Blue Bridge

Located in the heart of downtown lies the iconic pedestrian bridge simply known as the Blue Bridge. The bridge connects the city center on the East bank to the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University facilities on the West. This pedestrian bridge provides a convenient connection between the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus of Grand Valley State University as well as the Grand Rapids Public Museum and other attractions on the east side of the river.

This location has proven quite popular while providing a backdrop for wedding parties, prom pictures with its unmistakeable "Lake Blue" color.

Back to the city

Off to the left, in the two previous photos, is the JW Marriott Hotel where I spent the evening. Excellent service and attention to detail provide the perfect complement to the eye-catching contemporary architectural design.

Waterfront Downtown Grand Rapids

The downtown area is an ideal venue for taking in the all glorious options a large vibrant city has to offer. There are walking paths along the water which allow you to experience big-city excitement without the usual big city hassles. There are multiple dining, shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing opportunities all within a 10-minute stroll.

Pearl Street Bridge

 

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum happens to be one of the oldest history museums in the United States. The museum contains a cafe, gift shop, as well as a rather unique feature, a 1928 Spilllman Carousel. The museum offers attractions for everyone as well as those interested in Astronomy by way of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. 

Upon completing the museum tour, a simple stroll across the street brings you to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. 

Gerald R Ford Museum

Since September of 1981, the Gerald R.Ford Museum has provided visitors a snapshot into history with exhibits and interactive learning to better understand the highlights of the Ford Administration. The museum offers a gift shop to provide momentos of history while also serving as a host for naturalization ceremonies and the annual fourth of July fireworks,

 

Grand Rapids continue to flourish as one of the fastest growing cities with all its unique offerings and I look forward to returning to visit its newest attractions. 


THE CHURCHES OF SAN ANTONIO

The city of San Antonio, Texas is known for many things - The iconic river walk, Gigantic portions of beef, The San Antonio Spurs as well as the Famous Alamo. Among the less publicized attractions are the numerous churches located throughout the city. On a recent trip to San Antonio, I was fortunate enough to acquire access to three of the more better known churches in the city.

Little Church of LaVillita

The non-denominational Little Church of LaVillita happens to be one of San Antonio's most unique historical sites. Situated just off the river walk in the Historic Art Village of Lavillita, the Church was built in 1879 in Gothic Revival Architecture with a stunning stained glass window greeting all visitors upon entry. The meticulously crafted concrete walls provide an extremely unique experience among the churches of today while actively conducting services every Sunday Morning.

Saint Joseph Church

The Parish of Saint Joseph was the brainchild of a group of German Catholic immigrants searching for a place of worship in the mid 1800's. The church was constructed in a rather spartan fashion with small additions being made as funds allowed by the community. The exterior structure was finally considered completed in 1898 when a steeple was added to the gothic style rooftop. In 1902, the church was granted an immense upgrade as a handful of beautiful stained glass windows were purchased from a glass factory in Bavaria, Germany for the sum of $3000. 

Exterior Saint Joseph Church

The resiliency of the church was tested in 1945 when Joske's department store sought to purchase the church and grounds in order to expand its operation. The parishioners voted unanimously not to sell, exhibiting tremendous faith and resolve. As a result, the church remains a symbol of faith while surrounded by the Rivercenter Mall, hotels and residences. For this reason, the church is known to locals as the "jewel in the heart of San Antonio". The church serves as a respite for many locals and tourists alike every Sunday morning.

Front Section Saint Joseph Parish

This picturesque institution requires a visit by anyone in the vicinity of San Antonio - it is definitely worth the drive.

San Fernando Cathedral

Located in Downtown San Antonio is the world famous San Fernando Cathedral which has been honored to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves as the Mother Church of the ArchDiocese of San Antonio. The original church was built between 1738 and 1750 with the original walls forming the sanctuary of the cathedral. This church has the distinction of being the oldest cathedral in the State of Texas. 

The Church gets its name from Ferdinand III of Castile, who was a a 13th century ruler.  The Cathedral was built by settlers from the Canary Islands. Due to this effort, the interior contains a picture of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patroness of the Canary Islands.

The Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic Style in 1868, with the addition of the existing nave. The striking stained glass windows were added in 1920.

San Fernando Cathedral happens to have the elite status of being the only church in all of Texas ever visited by a  Pope - Pope John Paul II arrived in 1987. The cathedral serves as the foundation for religious citizens of San Antonio.  Each year, countless events are held here including baptism, weddings, funerals, as well as other special activities.