History of the Ferris Grand Building
This photograph was taken around 1902. Notice the stone profile of A.D. Ferris, in the center of the second floor, which was sculpted by L.H. Moore. The two light stone tablets contained the names A.D. Ferris - 1898, and C.H. Manuel - 1898, and another stone that says "FERRIS GRAND".
This 1991 view shows the vacant Stevenson store. Pipestone Performing Arts Center now occupies the building
Olive Street, Pipestone, MN (1911)
The Ferris Grand, a 32’x90’ three-story Sioux Quartzite building was constructed in 1898 by Leon H. Moore for owner A.D. Ferris.
The building was to house two stores on the first floor, the Ferris Grand Opera House on the second and a balcony on the third. Its architectural style was influenced by Richardsonian Romanesque, with a geometric cornice. The opera house was said to be the largest and finest in this part of the state.
When construction of the building was completed, L.H. Moore placed a stone profile of A.D. Ferris, which he sculpted, in the center of the second floor windows. At some time in the past the sculpture was removed and disappeared. Two white limestone tablets bearing the names of A.D. Ferris - 1898 and C.H. Manuel - 1898, adorned the face of the building. The iron balcony seen in the early photograph was also a beautiful feature.
The grand opening performance of the opera house was held on March 8th, 1899 with the “Great New York Comedy Success,” A Hired Girl. The doors were thrown open at 7:30 p.m. and the theater was filled by 8:00. The opening overture was given at 8:15 by the Ferris Grand Orchestra, directed by H.W. George. Mr. F.L. Janes then appeared on stage before the curtain to give a short speech dedicating the hall and presented Mr. Ferris with a basket of cut flowers. Between the first and second acts, Manager Smith presented the lead actor, Mr. McCarty with a peace-pipe.
Manager Smith hired traveling troupes and actors to present plays and other types of performances. The seating capacity of the main floor and balcony was about 800. The house was lit with 125 electric lights and heated with steam.
In early years a small portion of the second floor front was rented for office space. A.H. and W.A. Brown, physicians and surgeons were here in 1899, Burt Grin, dentist in 1900 and G.W. Gilmore, attorney, in 1905.
In 1899, the first floor was divided into two stores. The east room was occupied by the Ferris Grand Restaurant and bakery until 1909, when Wilson and Evans leased it for their department store. At this time an arch was cut between the east and west half making one large store. The west side store was occupied by the general merchandise store of R. Rosenthal, called the Savings Department Store, until 1902 when he sold out to Wilson and Evans. In 1926 the department store was sold to the S&L company. S&L remodeled the front facade in 1958 with large maroon tiles, replacing the iron balcony. S&L remained in the building until 1988 (which occupied the space for over 60 years). In 1988 it was sold to Bostwicks and then Stevensons, closing in 1990.
The local Masons purchased the building in 1916 and remodeled the second and partial third floor to use as a meeting hall. At that time, the "Ferris Grand" tablet was removed and replaced with a tablet reading "AF and AM," (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons). One of the most striking features of the Ferris is the large murals that adorn the walls of the Masonic Lodge room. These beautiful murals were painted by a German artist, Leo Henke, in 1917. Mr. Henke was not a Mason. He received the inspiration for the murals from a 1903 edition of “The Illustrated History of Freemasonry.” Mr. Henke’s renditions are amazingly accurate to the book. He charged $85 for painting the murals.
In 1993 the Pipestone Performing Arts Center opened in the street level space after extensive remodeling. In 2013 the local Masons gifted the building to the Pipestone County Historical Society. Space on the second floor is now exhibit space seen in a general Museum tour. The Masonic Hall has been preserved and is available to view by appointment.
History of the Pipestone Performing Arts Center
Pipestone’s long history of local performing arts began with the Pipestone Male Chorus, directed by Allen Opland, which was formed in the 1940s and performed at the high school auditorium for many years. In the 1960s the group enlarged to include a women’s chorus and renamed themselves Pipestone Male Chorus and Friends. This group performed at the Lake Benton Opera House and Palace Theater in Luverne, as well as at the Pipestone High School auditorium. In time they renamed the group the Al Opland Singers in honor of their founder.
From the 1950s through the 1970s the stage of Pipestone High School was home to the Allied Concert Series followed later by the Hiawatha Concert and Theater Association. During this time the Pipestone Arts Council was begun. There was an increasing need for a place for local talent to perform.
In 1992 the Pipestone Performing Arts Center began as a dream by visionary residents to create that place. They were driven by the need for a home for the Al Opland Singers and a venue for community theater. The task force searched for suitable space and eventually negotiated with the Masonic Orders for use of the street level of the Masonic Temple/Ferris Grand Block, an historic Sioux Quartzite building in Pipestone’s beautiful Downtown Historic District.
The Copious fundraising ensued; a managing director was hired; the Pipestone Performing Arts Center, Inc. (PPAC) was incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit corporation: an architect was hired; and the space was converted to a lovely, intimate, totally handicapped-equipped, 290-seat-theater. Equipment, often used, was acquired.
There is a large lobby done in art deco style. The Opland Singers are based here as well as the Calumet Players, and Calumet Children’s Theater. Rehearsal spaces, a scene shop, “green room” and costume storage serve all groups. In addition, from four to six special performances, called the “Presenter Series”, are booked by PPAC each year.
In late 2008 PPAC was given a challenge by a former resident: if they could raise $25,000 in the coming year, she would match it four to one. She also started the effort with a $20,000 donation. The PPAC worked diligently and made the challenge a reality late in 2009. Thus the Rickerman Endowment came into being, providing a small amount of interest on a semi-annual basis to PPAC.
Some of the major accomplishments are performances of “Opera on the Farm”, two shows put on by the Guthrie Theater Tour Group, a stellar performance by the Minnesota Orchestra and a two night sell-out performance by Lorie Line.
In recent years the PPAC has hosted a widening variety of performances and shows including dance troupes, traveling theater groups, comedy shows, documentary films, cultural speakers and various other community events.
The Pipestone Performing Arts Center is located at 104 East Main Street, in the heart of Pipestone’s Historic District. This District is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. The Center is housed in a Sioux quartzite building which dates back to 1897.
We are managed by a very dedicated group of community volunteers and our Managing Director, Mark Thode. The Pipestone Performing Arts Center is the host stage for the Calumet Players, the Calumet Players Children’s Theater, and the Al Opland Singers.
The Calumet Players offer great community theater with shows directed, managed, and acted out by local or area talents. They produce three shows a year, generally a mid-winter event, fall event and a summertime musical. The Children’s Theater produces one show per year with local youth entertaining all theater goers.
The Al Opland Singers have been a local tradition for many, many years. They have called our stage home since our opening. Twice a year, this group of talented voices from around the area entertains our audiences. We gladly welcome bus tours and group events with advance notification.
The Arts Center is in its 29th year of presenting a variety of quality shows. Support comes from SMAC, the Minnesota State Arts Board, as well as patrons and friends of the performing arts in Pipestone. If you would like to offer your support, please send correspondence to:
Mark Thode, Managing Director
PO Box 100, Pipestone, MN 56164-0100
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