It’s a rare community that combines the best of the old and the new, the best of big city amenities and small city charms, and wraps it all in a progressive package of events and activities that entice and entertain. The City of Adrian is a unique historic community in Southeastern Michigan that does it all!
Founded by entrepreneurs, Adrian enjoyed success from the outset, becoming one of the leading communities in the state and briefly considered as a location for the state capitol. As it turned out, the first governor to sit in the current Michigan State Capitol Building was an Adrian man, Governor Charles Croswell.
Adrian enjoyed success at many points in its history, early on for some of the first rail service in the state, then for the manufacture of train cars and automobiles, as the fence capital of the world with the development and manufacture of woven wire fence, and later as the home of Merillat Cabinets.
Along with business success the community ethic was established early on, with a passionate commitment to the Underground Railway, the founding of Adrian College and the arrival of what would become the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse and Siena Heights University.
Today that mix of economic success and community ethic has produced a remarkable community. Boasting three post-secondary institutions, an extraordinary array of public parks, a remarkable historic downtown including a Historic Commercial District recognized by the National Park Service, and a vibrant array of amenities, events, and experiences, Adrian is a city on the grow.
Among its treasures is the Croswell Opera House, named after Michigan’s 17th Governor, Charles Croswell. The Croswell is one of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the United States and the oldest in Michigan. Its storied history includes some of the greatest actors of the 19th century, including Edwin Booth and Maude Adams, and it hosted John Philip Sousa, Frederick Douglas, and Susan B. Anthony. After over 150 years in operation the Croswell completed an over $8 million dollar renovation in 2017; the beautiful theater will host over 100 shows in the coming year, including a Broadway season which features 6-8 full length musicals, and a special event season featuring plays, concerts, and musicals.
The Croswell’s plays and musicals are complimented by the classical, big band, and pops concerts presented by the Adrian Symphony Orchestra. One of the premier small market professional orchestras in North America, the ASO has been hosted on the Adrian College campus for over 30 years. Orchestra members are professional musicians who’ve trained at prestigious music schools including Juilliard, Eastman, Yale, and the University of Michigan. They perform with other professional orchestras, ballets, and opera companies. Many teach music in the region, in private studios, colleges, universities, and public schools.
The orchestra regularly collaborates with world-class soloists, including prize winners of the Naumburg, Leeds, and Tchaikovsky competitions. ASO guest artists have appeared with internationally-known orchestras in venues ranging from New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to Vienna's Musikverein. Recent ASO soloists have appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Dresden Staatskapelle, as well as other prestigious orchestras around the world.
If live, contemporary music is your love, Adrian offers great music in downtown bars and resturants, as well as at the Cotton Brewery Tap Room on the city’s east side on a regular basis. You can find live music in downtown almost any weekend, often hosted at Hooligans, the Brick Wall, or Farver’s at the Croswell, a great venue for an intimate entertainment experience, drinks and snacks. Each fall, the Blues and Brews event features craft beers from across the region, and some of the best blues music around.
Artalicious is the city’s fine art fair that fills downtown each September. A select group of juried artists graces booths on the streets, and strolling musicians perform all through the downtown. Regional musicians also perform on stages, and special demonstration artists show how they produce their wares. Family engagement is embraced with many hands-on children’s activities, and drama and music presentations with audience participation is part of each day. Your culinary needs are also central to the event, with special menus from local eateries and guests, as well as micro-beers from local brewers and local wines from area wineries.
First Fridays are a staple of downtown events, occurring every month of the year. Themed events, they feature live art and music, specials of unusual and unique gift items, clothing, food and homespun hospitality. Standing themes include car shows during the summer months, when streets are closed and beautiful classic, antique, and hot rods join the mix. Another summer First Friday classic is the Dog Days of Summer, when the streets and sidewalks are filled with four-legged friends on parade and partaking of goodies provided by downtown business owners.
Downtown also hosts the Lenawee County Historical Museum, in a former Carnegie Library building; a Farmer’s Market each Saturday morning from May until October; an annual Christmas Tree lighting at the historic Lenawee County Courthouse, and a Christmas Tree River Walk along the Raisin River. A fantastic Christmas Light Parade wraps up the season.
Adrian has been aggressively expanding bike routes through the city, building on a beautiful rails to trails project built in the city over 25 years ago. The trail connects the city’s major parks and runs next to the River Raisin along much of its length through the city. The Kiwanis Trail will be completing a connection to the City of Tecumseh in 2018, creating a safe, non-motorized trail over 9 miles long and connecting historic downtowns in both Adrian and Tecumseh.
Bike riders will be glad to know The League of Michigan Bicyclists hosts HUB Fest in Adrian each June, which features multiple routes originating and concluding in downtown. Riders can select from a traditional road route of up to 100 miles, a ‘Gravel Grinder’ on 50 miles of gravel roads, a family friendly ride on the Kiwanis Trail, or a Wine Tour ride for a leisurely 35 miles.
Whether it’s the highest quality entertainment in an authentic, historical community and venue; fabulous food, unique gifts and shops; great parks and great places to ride for families and aficionados; or events for real people presented by passionate talented artists, Adrian belongs on your bucket list!