This 1970 Lothlorien poster was graciously supplied by Aris Hampers from his personal collection. He played at this concert with his band, the Phlegethon. Probably, this was the last rock and roll-oriented use for this building, located at 632 Plymouth N.E. Notice how this poster mentions that the concert is being held at the “Old Place.”
The Place was located at 632 Plymouth N.E. , between Leonard and Michigan streets. It was listed in the Polk Grand Rapids city directory in 1967 and 1968 as “The Place,” with owners Tom Regis and Syl Dick. This building has an interesting history. It was used as a concert/dance and skating pavilion in Ramona Park in East Grand Rapids from 1912 until it was disassembled in 1955, and was moved and re-assembled at the Plymouth Street location. Henry Nieboer bought the building and had it moved to his farm on Plymouth NE when Ramona Park shut down their amusement park permanently. Nieboer was associated with the entertainment and skating business operated in this building from as early as 1938. In 1940 it was converted to a roller skating rink.
After the building was moved, Nieboer called his place the Skate-O-Rama. In May of 1961, there were State Amateur Skating Championship Competitions held at this facility. As early as 1965, the building was once again used for concerts and dancing, one example being an Impressions show that was canceled because the band reportedly had their car break down in route to the performance. A 16 piece dance orchestra was hired as a substitution, and played for 45 minutes. Reportedly, someone attending the ticket booth started refunding money to the ticket holders (2.00 of the 2.50 ticket price) and “disappeared” after handing back 50.00 worth of refunds. A “riot” ensued, and parts of the building were ransacked by disappointed fans.
The concert/dances that were held during The Place time frame are legendary to people that were teenagers in the late 1960s in Grand Rapids. Many local performers and some national acts played there.
Also, during the 60s, Delton Heard ran an establishment called the Psychedelic Shack at this same building.
In June of 1971 Henry Nieboer died, and in 1974 the building was demolished.
(Sources: Grand Rapids Press, Gail Snow, (an expert concerning Ramona history and an author on this subject,) Doug Taylor, Steve Smith, Kim Rush, Aris Hampers)
Click here for “The Place” Photo Album
The Place ash tray, courtesy of Matt Weber:
Interview with Jim Francis Program Director and DJ from WGRD (7×3:00 Min.)
(Total Interview 21:00 Min) After you listen to the Interview, please leave your thoughts, or a comment at the bottom of this page and the Track that it was on.
01 Track 1 (3:00 Min)
02 Track 2 (3:00 Min)
03 Track 3 (3:00 Min)
04 Track 4 (3:00 Min)
05 Track 5 (3:00 Min)
06 Track 6 (3:00 Min)
07 Track 7 (3:00 Min)
“The Place” Photo Album: After it loads, you need to scroll back down the page to the album.
West Michigan Music Hysterical Society asked the Six Generation what it was like to play at the Place and below is their response:
The Sixth Generation
Fred Bachman (Lead Singer)
As a member of the Sixth Generation back in the late 60’s, I remember The Place well. It was HUGE! Our band thrived on the small, intimate setting of the Skyliner near Dowagiac. You were virtually elbow to elbow with the audience there.
Walking into The Place, it felt anything but intimate. The stage was high off the floor, and the dance floor looked endless in size. A high ceiling almost exaggerated the vast space.
During sound check, I could not hear myself sing at all. We were told the provided sound system was professionally installed to match the acoustics of the room. The phrase “state of the art” did not exist back then, but that is what it was. Ear monitors also did not exist back then. As the lead singer, I had to hear myself. So we placed our 4 JBL 12″ speakers that were mounted on stands in back of us. That worked really well. I am not sure if we were running through both The Place’s sound system and ours, but we were very loud. So much so, that I remember our bass player complaining my voice was too loud and hurting his ears! That was a first.
The audience was pretty much disengaged, since the proximity of the crowd to the band was far away. It was like playing a gig in your dreams. I observed all these kids walking around in a circle like they were in a roller rink, or taking a stroll on the beach. I couldn’t get their attention, despite my best Jaggar moves. It wasn’t that they didn’t like us. We just couldn’t get any energy from them, and them from us, due to the set up of the stage and the size of “The Place”.
It was a safe, well run place, though, and the kids were well behaved. It was not my cup of tea, however, for interacting with the crowd.
John Dale (Lead Guitar)
“I was the guitar player for the Sixth Generation from Niles, Michigan until we broke up in December 1970. I cannot recall the exact year or month we played The Place, but I think it was 1968 and in the summer. [Someone correct me if I am wrong!] We had already played in Holland at the Poe Club, at my college at Grand Valley, and Ferris State College where our drummer and bass player went, but never in Grand Rapids. When we were finally booked at The Place in Grand Rapids we were all thrilled, not only because it was our first gig there but The Place had a great reputation among teen dance venues. My arrival at The Place was personally memorable, to this day, as I injured my left “fingering” hand when exiting the car I was in. Someone accidently shut the door on my fingers as I was getting out of the backseat. That is my first memory of The Place. But I rapidly recovered to be able to play that night. What I recall of The Place itself was the extraordinarily high stage we were on that almost seemed to give us an aerial view of the crowd. And yes, the crowd was moving, swirling around the center of the floor; I remember from left to right, counter clock-wise from the stage view, but perhaps it was clockwise. I don’t recall seeing smokers or smelling cigarette smoke, and as a non-smoker, I would have remembered. I also recall The Place was enormous, cavernous. I still have this image of an aircraft hangar it was so large. I wondered for a time if an airport might have been at that location at one time in history. But I guess not. Many of my former band mates and I still relive the good times in our lives and The Place was one venue that we still talk about to this day. The crowd was large and responsive, and the girls were cute! What more could a rock band want. Wish The Place still existed! John “Hoov” Dale.”
Paul Davies (Bass and Vocals)
I remember The Place as a huge Quonset hut building. One of the biggest places we ever played. Also striking was the stage being what seemed 12 feet high so we could watch the kids do the stroll around the perimeter, clear to the back of the huge floor. That is the only place I have ever seen anything like it. A wonderful experience, I wish it was still there so we could play it again.
Ron Hamrick (Keyboard and Vocals)
It was a large, fun venue to play. The crowd was very enthusiastic. I think it must have been a former roller rink or something because the kids walked the perimeter just like they had roller skates on in a roller rink — a large mass of kids going round and round and round. It almost made you dizzy watching it from the stage, which was fairly high above the dance floor, so we had a very good view. Those who wanted to dance just went out into the middle of the floor. It was a ton of fun and one of my favorite venues back in those days.
Dave Walenga (Drummer and Vocals)
The first thing I remember about the Place was its size. It was a huge building with a very high stage. The band had a great show – the crowd which was one of the largest we had ever played in front of (estimated 2000) was enthusiastic. After 40 years this is one of the venues I remember.