The Former Grand Ledge Spiritualist Camp, 1895-1910
The Ledges Theater in Grand Ledge sits among the trees in Fitzgerald Park.
Coming across this structure while walking through the park, you might think you came across a barn…but no. It was originally a camp built back in 1894-1895 by a group of Spiritualists. Their intent was to locate a peaceful, countryside site where they could concentrate on communicating with the dead. The area was perfect: a woodsy surrounding and near two bodies of water: the Grand River and Sandstone Creek.
The group called themselves the Grand Ledge Spiritualist Camp Association who used their structure as an answer to the growing late-1800s interest in spiritualism and communication with those who have crossed over to the afterlife.
Seances were the current rage in the late 1800s. There were groups such as the Spiritualists, who went about their séances and communication attempts in a sincere and serious manner. Unfortunately, there were bogus clairvoyants, crystal ball gazers, fortune tellers, mediums, oracles, palm readers, prophets, and psychics…as well as readers of the mind, palm, tarot cards and tea leaves. These charlatans bilked & milked those who desired to speak one last time to a loved one who had recently passed.
Not so with the Spiritualists. They were basically an honest group who believed there had to be some way to touch base with the souls in the netherworld. The group in Grand Ledge used this structure to hold their séances in a reliable, forthright manner, and held lectures with other spiritualism programs.
By the early 1900s, the public was growing weary and losing their passion for séances and it wasn’t long before the Grand Ledge spiritualists moved on. The town of Grand Ledge bought the building in 1919 and used it as part of a public park.
Over the years the structure was used as a skating rink, dance hall, meeting place and factory. In the 1950s it was turned into a summer theater. Over the decades, it passed from hand-to-hand but remained being used for theater and acting programs.
The old theater/spiritualist hall continues to accept donations to keep it in shape. Now that you know a little history about the place, it may have peaked your curiosity enough to pay a visit someday. Find out more at the Grand Ledge Historical Society page.
Grand Ledge Spiritualist Camp, 1895-1910
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