Theatre North is among the three oldest continually-operating community theatres in the United States. Over 130 productions have been produced in the theatre’s 57 year history.
Founded in 1964 with a production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit at the Kaleva Hall on Aurora Street, Theatre North also presented plays and musicals at the Ironwood Memorial Building until the group purchased the Scandinavian Hall on McLeod Street in 1966. The group sold that building in 1986 and spent two seasons performing at the Historic Ironwood Theatre and the Towne House while it renovated the Bark River Culvert and Equipment building on Lake Road.
In 1987 Theatre North finished the renovations and moved into the building it still calls home today. Theatre North opened its intimate and versatile 153-seat theatre in November 1987 with a production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!
Theatre North is still run by a volunteer Board of Directors and produces three productions every season. To maintain their rich legacy as one of the nation’s oldest community theatres, Theatre North produced four virtual performances of Nunsense, Spoon River Anthology, I’m Herbert and Amadeus during the COVID-19 pandemic. The theatre still relies on a dedicated workforce of volunteers who direct, conduct, perform, design, and produce every production.
Theatre North is the producer and fiscal sponsor of the Emberlight Festival, as well as the host of our International Film Festival and Behind the Curtain series.
Miners Memorial Heritage Park
The Miners Memorial Heritage Park (MMHP) encompasses the former iron ore mining locations within the City of Ironwood. The discovery of these mines resulted in the establishment of the City of Ironwood in the latter part of the 19th century. The last iron ore mine in the City of Ironwood closed in 1966.
The City of Ironwood passed a resolution in July 2010 to repurpose the land into a year round recreational park. Non-motorized trails have been developed over the last decade for activities including hiking, biking, running, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing while providing safe corridors between many locations within the City of Ironwood.
The Miners Memorial Heritage Park is the home of Emberlight’s large-installation art show Art in the Park every July and August.
Miners Memorial Heritage Park
Built in 1892, the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Depot was designed in the Richardson Romanesque style. It was the hub of an elaborate railroad yard operation in the center of Ironwood. As the mines closed, so too did the fortunes of the railroads, with the last iron ore trains ending in 1967 and passenger trains ending their service at the Depot in 1970. Purchased by the City of Ironwood, the Depot was refurbished by a dedicated group of volunteers, and it is now home to the Ironwood Area Historical Society and the Ironwood Area Chamber of Commerce. The Depot features displays on early railroading, and a large exhibit illustrating the history and operation of the Ironwood iron mines. In 1986 the Depot was listed on the Natioinal Register of Historic Places. During the summer months, the Historical Society staffs the Depot daily, offering explanatory tours of the exhibits as well as local historical lore. Located in the former women’s waiting room of the Depot is the counter and desk headquarters of the Ironwood Chamber of Commerce. With the starting “mile one” of the Michigan Iron Belle Trail just outside the Depot entrance on the original railroad right-of-way, the Depot has in many ways returned to one of its original functions: serving as a meeting and gathering space for travelers from all parts of the United States.
The Historic Depot Museum is the home of Emberlight’s Heritage Flags, Emberlight Photographers Show, and commissioned works every July and August.
Historic Ironwood Theatre
The Historic Ironwood Theatre is the “jewel of downtown” with its gleaming marquee, restored hand-painted murals, historic Barton theater pipe organ, and outstanding acoustics. The theatre stage is home to many concerts and events year-round. Tours of the theatre and its rich performing arts history are available.
The Ironwood Theatre was built as a vaudeville & silent movie palace in 1928 under the direction of Architect Albert Nelson at a cost of $160,000 (equivalent of approximately $2,000,000 today). Under the leadership of A.L. Pikar, the theatre became the center of entertainment in the Ironwood area. The Hollywood Golden Age of the 30s, 40s and 50s followed the Great Depression and the theatre flourished during these decades.
In 1982, owner Thomas Renn gave the Theatre building to the City of Ironwood through the Downtown Ironwood Development Authority (DIDA). Restoration efforts began at that time under the direction of the newly formed Ironwood Theatre Preservation Committee. On January 11, 1985, the Ironwood Theatre was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Ironwood Theatre is a volunteer based organization with an 9-member Board of Directors, one full time staff person, more than 30 regular volunteers and more than 100 individuals who volunteer their time and talents because they believe in the theatre and the central role it plays in the cultural life of so many nearby communities.
The Historic Ironwood Theatre hosts Emberlight’s live performances every summer, in addition to special events like the Emberlight Red Carpet Award Show.