The Lowell Area Historical Museum is taking us on a stroll along Main Street and sharing the history of buildings in Lowell’s historic downtown. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Address: 202-206-208 W. Main (200-204-210 today)
Builder: Colonel H. H. Vinton for Jarvis C. Train
Building name: Train’s Opera House
This building consisted of three storefronts.
The building owners, Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis Train, operated the Opera House on the 3rd floor. Here it is shown in 1893. The first storefront on the left would have held a restaurant/billards; the center a tailor shop and the 3rd a saloon.
Many different types of entertainments including dances, parties, political speeches and club events were held at the Opera House. After a fire in 1909 destroyed the third floor, Mrs. Train had it rebuilt, enlarging the stage, adding scenery and prop rooms, and increasing the seating capacity to 400.
From the 1980s-2000, the Flat River Antique Mall had consignment booths upstairs in this space. In 2003-4, Main Street loft condos were completed on the 2nd and 3rd floors.
The outside stairway to businesses in the basement is visible on left of the photo above. The basement could be entered from a stairway outside along the east wall of the building. It was occupied by businesses such as Blume Bros. Cigar Factory (1895), Hoffman’s Plumbing Shop (1908-1920s), Will Stone, dry cleaning (1920), dealers of Hudson and Essex autos and most recently Flat River Antique Mall vendors. In 1873, Ambrose Mitchell advertised her Train’s Block Restaurant. Meals of meat, potatoes, butter and bread, 25c. Tea or coffee extra.
You can also see in the photo above (taken in 1908) “Star Theater 5c” is written on the window of the storefront on the left. It was called a vaudette because vaudeville and silent movies were the entertainment of that day. The middle and right storefronts were saloons. The Printing office of The Lowell Journal is on the 2nd floor. Enter the “Door to the Rink”, which is the set of double doors between the 1st and 2nd storefronts, to get to the roller skating rink.
Idle Hour Theatre was operated by Newton Warner(left) and his two sons; Claude who ran the projector and Robert Royden Warner who played the piano for the silent movies.
The flyer above is from November 1902: W. S. Godfrey expanded his store from 202 W. Main to include 206 W. Main. “Old customers we greet you. New customers we welcome you.”
At 202 (200 today), The Lowell Journal was published on the 2nd floor almost since its founding in 1865 until 1909. The first floor occupants were:
- Charles Althen Clothing, 1874-1890
- Charles Bush’s Restaurant and Billiards, 1890s
- Wm. S. Godfrey Clothing, 1899-1906
- Star Theatre in 1907-1912, followed by the Idle Hour Theatre, 1912-1920s
- O. J. Yeiter Furniture Co. with the Funeral Chapel in the east corner, 1927-1934
- F. Earle Haner Undertaking, 1935-36
- W. A. Roth Furniture and Undertaking, 1937-1959
- Beachum’s Furniture, 1960s-1975
- Lippert Pharmacies offices, 1970s-80s
- Flat River Antique Mall, 1986-2006.
The Antique Mall boasted it had “4 floors of antiques” and was West Michigan’s largest antique store. It was the Puppy Tub, 1989-2002, and most recently Bella Grace Boutique.
Note the word “Chapel” in the storefront glass dating from the days when it was a funeral parlor.
Here’s another look at the building from 1893:
And here’s what 200-204-210 W. Main Street looks like today: