Opera House – Detroit, MI

Opera House – Detroit, MI

Detroit Opera House

This gallery is a preview of what you can expect to see at  Theatre Historical Society of America’s annual conclave and historical theater tour in Detroit June 18 – 24, 2018.  You can find out more about the upcoming Conclave, and how you can participate in the historical theater tours here.

 

About the Detroit Opera House

The Detroit Opera House is an ornate opera house located at 1526 Broadway Street in Downtown Detroit, Michigan, within the Grand Circus Park Historic District. The 2,700-seat venue is the home of productions of the Michigan Opera Theatre and a variety of other events. The theatre was originally designed by C. Howard Crane, who created other prominent theatres in Detroit including The Fillmore Detroit, the Fox Theater, and the Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Hall. It opened on January 22, 1922.

The present Detroit Opera House opened in 1922 and was known as the Capitol Theatre. It was among the first of several performance venues built around Detroit’s Grand Circus Park. When it opened, the Capitol was reportedly the fifth largest movie theater in the world, seating about 3,500 people. In 1929, the Capitol Theater became the Paramount Theater, and in 1934, the Broadway Capitol Theater.

During the first few decades of its history, the theater presented feature films along with live entertainment including artists such as jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Later the Broadway Capitol converted to a movies-only policy. Following a minor restoration in the 1960s, the building became the 3,367-seat Grand Circus Theatre. The theater closed in 1978 after surviving several years exhibiting second-run and soft-core porn films. It reopened again briefly in 1981 but closed after a minor fire in 1985 caused damage.

In 1988, the Michigan Opera Theatre purchased the building and dubbed it the Detroit Opera House, after an extensive restoration and stage expansion. The reopening in 1996 was celebrated with a gala event featuring Luciano Pavarotti and other noted artists. The Detroit Opera House is now configured with seating for an audience of 2,700. Since 1996, the opera house has annually hosted five opera productions, five dance productions from touring companies, and a variety of other musical and comedy events.

The building underwent an extensive restoration which took place under the control of architect Eric J. Hill. It reopened in 1996.
Over the years, opera has been presented at a variety of venues in Detroit – the Old Detroit Opera House (1869–1963) at Campus Martius,[1] the Whitney Grand Opera House (Garrick Theatre) at Griswold Street and Michigan Avenue, and the New Detroit Opera House (1886–1928) at Randolph and Monroe Streets.

 

Wikipedia

Stats

Former names: Grand Circus Theater (1960s–1985), Broadway Capitol Theater (1934–1960s), Paramount Theater (1929–1934), Capitol Theater (1922–1929)
Built: 1922
Added to NRHP: 1983
Address: 1526 Broadway St, Detroit, MI 48226
Phone: (313) 237-7464
Website: michiganopera.org

Detroit Fillmore Theatre

2115 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Music Hall – Detroit, MI

Music Hall – Detroit, MI

About the Detroit Music Hall

The Music Hall Center for Performing Arts is a 1,731-seat theatre located in the city’s theatre district at 350 Madison Street in Downtown Detroit, Michigan. It was built in 1928 as the Wilson Theatre, designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1976, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. John Francis Dodge and his brother Horace were original investors in Ford Motor Company who sold their interest to Henry Ford and established their own company, the Dodge Motor Company, in 1914. Both brothers died in 1920, leaving their respective widows very wealthy women.

Matilda Dodge Wilson, John’s widow, married in 1924 to Alfred Wilson, was interested in stage productions and decided to use part of her fortune to build a venue in Detroit to serve as home to a repertory troupe and to host touring Broadway performers. She hired the prominent Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls who assigned William Kapp to design the building and spent $1.5 million on the construction. At the time of its opening in 1928, the building was dubbed the Wilson Theatre.

Kapp designed the six-story Wilson Theater in an Art Deco style. The Madison Street facade is decorated with orange and tan brick with Pewabic tile and stone accents. The upper facade is divided into seven bays by stone-covered piers which are capped with terracotta theatrical masks. In each of the five central bays are two windows separated by a narrower pier. The end bays have only one window. The parapet boasts coral and green Pewabic tile in a quatrefoil pattern and the facade at street level has been covered with travertine with green marble at the base. The original interior was designed in a Spanish Renaissance style and seated 1,800. The lower level lounge featured a built-in bar among its amenities.

During the Great Depression, the cash-strapped Detroit Symphony Orchestra was unable to maintain its own building, Orchestra Hall, and played in a number of other locations in the city. In 1946, the orchestra moved into Wilson Theatre, renaming it Detroit Music Hall. The symphony left for the newly constructed Ford Auditorium in 1956, and the building was used for other purposes, especially a movie theater showing Cinerama films. In 1971, Music Hall became the home of the fledgling Michigan Opera Theatre. The opera company staged most of its productions here through the 1984 season.

Restoration efforts began in 1973 and continued for several years. In 1974, the venue was renamed the Music Hall Center for Performing Arts. It is currently the only venue in Detroit built expressly to present live performances. The theater was added to the Michigan Register of Historic Places in 1976 and National Register of Historic Places in 1977. A State of Michigan historical marker was placed at the entrance in 1978.

Wikipedia

Stats

Built: 1928
Added to NRHP: 1977
Architect: William Kapp; Smith, Hinchman & Grylls
Architectural style: Art Deco
Address:350 Madison Street Detroit, Michigan 48226
Phone: (313) 887-8500
Website: MusicHall.org

Detroit Music Hall

350 Madison St, Detroit, MI 48226

Michigan Theatre Garage – Detroit, MI

Michigan Theatre Garage – Detroit, MI

Michigan Theatre (Garage), Detroit

About the Detroit Michigan Theatre

The Michigan Theatre opened August 23, 1926 and was designed by the architectural firm of Rapp & Rapp for Detroit philanthropist and movie theater owner John H. Kunsky. The theater’s construction cost $5 million (equivalent to $62 million in 2008). With a seating capacity of 4050, the concert hall/movie house was one of the largest in Michigan. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the theater changed ownership several times. It was subsequently used for various events: in the 1960s a closed-circuit television provided views of Red Wings ice hockey games for those who could not attend the actual event in nearby Olympia Stadium, and in the 1970s the theater was a nightclub and concert venue for rock bands.

Upon its completion, the Michigan Theater could seat 4,050 patrons, although theatre developer John Kunsky boasted 4,500 seats. In addition to films in its prime years, the theatre hosted performances of bands led by John Philip Sousa, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey and Harry James as well as live performances by The Marx Brothers, Betty Grable, and Bob Hope.

The theater ceased operations in 1976 after operating as a nightclub named The Michigan Palace. After the closure, office tenants threatened to leave unless they received adequate parking. To retain the tenants, building owners gutted and converted the theater into a parking structure. The theater could not be completely demolished and replaced by a parking structure because it is integral to the structure of the office building. The ornate plaster ceiling of the theater auditorium and grand lobby, at the ninth floor level, are still intact, as are parts of the mezzanine, the 2nd and 3rd balcony foyers and their staircases. The projection booth is also still intact. The Michigan Theater was built on the site of the small garage where Henry Ford built his first automobile (the garage was transported brick by brick to The Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn).

The great arched window over the entrance is a false as the grand lobby is approximately 40 feet (12 m) behind the window. This false window (largest of its kind in the country) has a curved back wall with over 50 ornate mirrors that reflected the light from chandelier out to the street. Although the tall narrow chandelier is gone, new lighting has been installed within the 5 story tall window chamber.

The Michigan is featured in several films: in 8 Mile, where the crew rapped before entering the Chin Tiki restaurant space; in The Island, where it is a structure of the Los Angeles of the future; in Street Kings: Motor City; in Alex Cross; and in Transformers: Age of Extinction. Multiple episodes of the television show Detroit 1-8-7 have also filmed scenes in the space. During a scene in Only Lovers Left Alive filmed in the building, the main protagonists discuss its history as an example of cultural change and decay.

Wikipedia

Stats

Address: 220 Bagley Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
Owner: John H. Kunsky
Architect: Rapp & Rapp
Capacity: 4,050
Current use: Office Space, Coworking Space, Retail Space, Restaurant, Bar, Parking garage, Parking lot.

Detroit Michigan Theatre Garage

220 Bagley Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Gem Theatre – Detroit, MI

Gem Theatre – Detroit, MI

About the Detroit Gem Theatre

The Gem Theatre in Detroit (built 1927) houses a two-level theatre with traditional row and aisle seating and intimate stage-level seating at cabaret tables. It shares a lobby with the cabaret-style Century Theatre (built 1903). The theatre has stylings of Spanish Revival architecture. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.In 1902, the Twentieth Century Club, a group of cultural, socially prominent women, built a Mission-style building to house their club. The building, now the Century Theatre, is built of red brick trimmed with white sandstone. The first floor originally housed a dining room, while the second floor housed a 400-seat auditorium.

In 1902, the Twentieth Century Club, a group of cultural, socially prominent women, built a Mission-style building to house their club. The building, now the Century Theatre, is built of red brick trimmed with white sandstone. The first floor originally housed a dining room, while the second floor housed a 400-seat auditorium.

In 1928, the member of the Century club contracted George D. Mason to design a theater addition to the Century Club building. The resulting Spanish Revival-style building was leased to the Little Theatre chain, which showed foreign films, and the building was known as the Little Theatre.

In 1933, due to the Depression, the Twentieth Century Club disbanded. The Little Theatre, however, continued, suffering through several name changes, becoming The Rivoli in 1932, Drury Lane (and then the Europa in 1935, the Cinema in 1936, and the Vanguard Playhouse in 1960. The Vanguard offered live theater rather than movies.

Finally, in 1967, the theatre was named the Gem.[ The building was used as an adult movie house until it closed in 1978. Soon afterward, developer Charles Forbes purchased the combined Gem/Century building and began a complete restoration of the Gem Theatre in 1990. The refurbished Gem opened in 1991.

Protected from demolition during urban renewal for Comerica Park, the newest home of the Detroit Tigers, the Gem Theatre, and Century Theatre was moved five-blocks on wheels to its new location at 333 Madison Street on 16 October 1997. At a distance of 563 meters (1,850 feet) it is the furthest known relocation of a sizable building.

Wikipedia

Stats

Location: 333 Madison Street Detroit, Michigan
Opened: 1927
Built: 1903
Architect: George D. Mason
Architectural style: Renaissance
Added to NRHP: May 09, 1985

Detroit Gem Theatre

333 Madison St, Detroit, MI 48226

Fillmore Theatre – Detroit

Fillmore Theatre – Detroit

About the Detroit Fillmore Theatre

The Fillmore Detroit is a multi-use entertainment venue operated by Live Nation. Built in 1925, the Fillmore Detroit was known for most of its history as the State Theatre, and prior to that as the Palms Theatre. It is located near the larger Fox Theatre in the Detroit Theatre District along Woodward Avenue across from Comerica Park and Grand Circus Park. The Fillmore Detroit features a theatre with a Grand Lobby and three levels of seating, as well as the State Bar & Grill which has a separate entrance and is open when the theatre is not hosting events. The Detroit Music Awards are held annually at The Fillmore Detroit in April. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Wikipedia

Stats

Built: 1925
Added to NRHP: 1982
Architect: C. Howard Crane
Architectural style: Beaux Arts
Address: 2115 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
Phone: (313) 961-5451
Website: http://www.thefillmoredetroit.com

Detroit Fillmore Theatre

2115 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

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