With its wood floors and walls, 20 foot ceiling, fieldstone fireplace, and curved wooden stage, the Old Art Building provides a truly unique experience for community activities and performing arts.
Preserved in its original condition, the W.T. Best Theater seats up to 199 persons and has been updated to meet all sound, lighting, video, screen, technological and other performance requirements. Among numerous modifications, the “Best” contains coordinated stage lighting, a professionally engineered 5.1 surround sound system, blu-ray video projection equipment, wireless high-speed internet, and a 16’ x 9’ automatic screen that fills the proscenium. Full kitchen and concessions facilities make this truly one of the “Best” historic venues for film and performing arts within the pure lakeshores of the Leelanau Peninsula.
Before his death in 1909, Walter T. Best performed throughout the Midwest as a musician and the “prince of magic” known as “Maro the Magician.” At the turn of the century, Maro and his wife, Allie, built a summer home in Leland on the shore of North Lake Leelanau, which became Allie’s permanent home after Maro’s death. In 1922, Allie funded and oversaw the construction of a women’s cultural and social club, now known as the Old Art Building. The building is situated in a park-like setting on the bank of the Leland River, between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau, a block or so from the historic weathered shanties of Fishtown, local restaurants and business community. For more than 90 years, the Old Art Building has been a venue for nearly every kind of community assembly, artistic activity and performance, from follies to gatherings by county women to roll bandages during World War II for wounded soldiers and the Red Cross.
Upcoming Events at the Best Theatre
- September 1, 2018 7:00 pmAnnual "Concert on the Lawn" with K Jones and the Benzie Playboys
- September 15, 2018 7:00 pmLeland Musical Arts Celebration