dexter copeland school

Former school building in Dexter, Mich., is being converted to theater venue

Feb. 26, 2021
The former Copeland School, built in 1887, is set to become home to the Encore Theatre Company.

A nonprofit theater group is raising money for the renovation of a former school building in downtown Dexter, Mich.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the Encore Theatre Company is seeking more than $1 million to transform the old Copeland school building into a multifaceted performance venue.

Last year, Dexter Community Schools sold the historic schoolhouse, known as the Copeland building, to the theater for $1 million. The theater plans to resume productions once renovations are completed.

Originally built in 1857 as the Dexter Union Schoolhouse, the Copeland building was rebuilt in 1887; a major addition was constructed in 1936.

"As we toured it from the inside, we found an original archway and a wall from the original building under drywall and plaster and now it's actually built the other way, so, where the building once stood is now parking lot," says Daniel Cooney, the theater group’s co-founder and artistic director.

The building already has a 75-foot-by-75-foot auditorium. When the building renovation is completed, the 20,000-square-foot facility also will accommodate public meeting spaces, advanced productions and room for expanded arts education programs.

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