City Opera House

106--112 Front St., Traverse City, Michigan


Street View 


A two sided Michigan Historical Marker here reads:

In 1891 three brothers-in-law Anthony Bartak, Charles Wilhelm and Frank Votruba built this 1,200-seat Victorian opera house. Designed by E. R. Prall of Pontiac, the opera house was the first facility in Traverse City to use electric lights. It has a 43-foot ceiling, hardwood maple floors and excellent acoustics. Built as a meeting hall and auditorium, the opera house hosted concerts, traveling plays, vaudeville shows, high school graduations, dinners and balls.

Side 2:

In 1920 a motion picture firm leased the opera house and closed it to avoid competition with its own film theaters. The building was used briefly during the Depression for a WPA project creating miniature city buildings. In 1971 it was listed on the national and state historic registers. In 1978 the City Opera House Heritage Committee began raising money to restore the structure. In 1980 the opera house was given to Traverse City by the descendants of one of the original owners, Frank Votruba.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 7, 1972
Reference number
Areas of significance
Architecture; Social History; Performing Arts
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Music facility; Business
Current function
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • October 15, 2012: New Street View added by Rattrak