Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac annual holiday ornament features Beckwith Theatre

DOWAGIAC — A local organization aims to offer people a piece of Dowagiac history this holiday season.

The Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac is selling the group’s latest “Uniquely Dowagiac” Christmas ornament, which depicts the original Beckwith Theatre building. The decoration is being sold for $30 apiece, and may be purchased online at ypdowagiac.wixsite.com/uniquelydowagiac, or at several locations in Dowagiac, including:

  • The Baker’s Rhapsody, 144 S. Front St.
  • Dowagiac Area History Museum, 201 E. Division St.
  • Bakeman Barbers, 101 S. Front St.
  • Deck The Halls, 202 S Front St.

“Every year, we look at different pieces of Dowagiac history to feature on our ornaments,” said Young Professionals of Greater Dowagiac chair Becky Grabemeyer. “We want to celebrate history unique to the Dowagiac area.”

The Beckwith Theatre decoration is the sixth design Young Professionals members have developed for the annual ornament, following last year’s depiction of the mythical Dewey Lake Monster.

The ornaments are handcrafted and hand painted in the U.S.

According to Grabemeyer, 100 ornaments are available for this year’s sale while supplies last, and re-orders are not guaranteed. She said the organization ordered extras of its 2015 and 2016 ornaments, which featured the Dowagiac Union Schools mascot and the Round Oak Stove Company, respectively.

“Anyone who missed out on those ornaments can complete their set of six,” she said.

Built in 1893 to honor Round Oak Furnace Company founder P.D. Beckwith, the Beckwith Theatre was considered by local newspaper reports to be the finest theater between Chicago and Detroit, having hosted performers such as singer Lillian Russel and composer John Phillip Sousa.

The theater was demolished in 1966. Beckwith Park currently rests at the site of the former theater.

“We wanted to go with an iconic Dowagiac item,” Grabemeyer said. “Many people have fond memories of the building.”

According to Grabemeyer, the organization has raised more than $1,000 in ornament sales to date. The money generated through the sale of the ornaments will go toward supporting the service organization’s various community events, including its Russom Park Pavilion project, which involves the construction of a pavilion to complement Russom Park’s sports complex. The project has been in the works for more than three years, and the organization is roughly 90 percent of the way to its $40,000 goal for pavilion funds.

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