Advertisement for Hill's Opera House at Main and Ann.
The city's first real theater was George D. Hill's Opera House, which opened on the corner of Main and Ann in August 1871 with The Spy of Shiloh, a local production recalling the Civil War.
In 1908, entrepreneur B. C. Whitney purchased Hill's Opera House, remodeled the theater, and added two stories to the building. In February Michigenda, Michigan Union Opera's first production, opened there to a packed house. Written and performed by students, using all-male casts including popular campus athletes, these annual extravaganzas were a great hit and soon took to the road, delighting alumni as far away as New York and Chicago.