Vassar Theatre

Address: 140 E Huron Ave
City: Vassar
State: MI
Zip:
County: Tuscola
Open: 1937
Capacity: 512
Owner History: Tim OBrien
Number of visits to this page: 8305
Notes:

This theatre by the architectural firm of Bennett & Straight opened on December 26, 1937 with “Stella Dallas” starring Barbara Stanwyck. It underwent extensive renovation and restoration by it’s owner, Tim O'Brien.

Reopened in November 2005 and is used primarily for movies. The seating capacity was originally for 512 and is now 371. It was closed in March 2014 upon the death of the owner. It was purchased in late-2014 by Andreas Fuchs who is an Advisor and part of the Team of Cinema Treasures. The Vassar Theatre reopened January 30, 2015.

Info Updates:
4/6/2021 - Andy Gray

The Vassar Theatre is a venue that my uncle's research didn't uncover as a Johnson Construction Company project, and for which my grandfather Al Johnson didn't leave behind any Kodachrome slides. Two clues are the basis for including it in our family theater history. The first is its similarity in art moderne/deco style with other Johnson-built theaters. This includes the trademark red and cream exterior color scheme and the quintessential "Johnson doors" with paired half-moon shaped glass, which are said to have been patented by my grandfather.

The second clue is in a September 1949 newspaper article (see below) which lists the locations of theaters owned by the Schuckert & Stafford theater chain. The Vassar is among the six other theaters that Johnson built for that company. The theater, located at 140 E Huron Avenue in Vassar, opened in 1937. If the Vassar was one of my grandfather's projects, it's one of eleven Johnson-built theaters that is still open in 2021 (Covid-19 closures notwithstanding).

The WaterWinterWonderland.com site provides this history: "The Vassar Theater is an Art Deco style, utility building, sheathed in contrasting metalon tiles, with a baked enamel finish. The streamlined projecting marquee is trimmed in colors designed to blend with the tiled upper façade. The squared, bay window ticket office and the oval-shaped entrance doors are trimmed in chrome. The theater seats 512. The Vassar Theater is significant as a fine example of the Art Deco theater and as Vassar's oldest still operating movie theater." "In 1937 Howard and his wife Grace Smith started a partnership with Howards brother, Stanley. They hired Bennett and Straight, of Dearborn to design the theater and The Long Sign Company of Detroit to design their marquee. The Vassar Theater stayed open until 1979. In 1987 a new owner reopened the theater."

The Cinema Treasures website says that the Vassar Theatre "...opened on December 26, 1937 with 'Stella Dallas' starring Barbara Stanwyck. It underwent extensive renovation and restoration by its owner, Tim O'Brien. Reopened in November 2005 and is used primarily for movies. The seating capacity was originally for 512 and is now 371. It was closed in March 2014 upon the death of the owner. It was purchased in late-2014 by Andreas Fuchs who is an Advisor and part of the Team of Cinema Treasures. The Vassar Theatre reopened January 30, 2015."

3/30/2015 - Linda Barnum
Dear Movie fans, Please allow me update you on some exciting information. The Historic Vassar Theatre has been sold. The new owner is Mr. Andreas Fuchs of Conn. Mr. Fuchs purchased the theater in mid- Dec. of 2014. His grand opening was at the end of Dec. with two special movies. The new first run movie was shown on Jan. 24, 2015. The Vassar community is very fortunate to have this wonderful treasure Mr. Fuchs has restored the dynamics Tim O'Brien began. He is providing first run movies at affordable prices. Mr. Fuchs's personality has endeared him to our community. You can learn more about Andreas Fuchs through articles recently published in Midland Daily News, Tuscola County Advertiser, & The Saginaw News. The Vassar community would like to invite all tourists, & movie buffs to visit this historic theater. As you sit in one of the comfortable contoured seats, gaze at the beautiful art deco interior. The multicolored lighting sets the tone for this theater experience. You are literally transported in time! Close your eyes, imagine what it must have been like to be in the audience opening night of Dec. 27, 1937. Join us for an adventure!.
4/2/2014 - Gary Szymzak
Tim O'Brien passed away Wednesday March 9th 2014 at the age of 51 from a heart attack. His funeral was held on Monday the 24th at the Vassar Theatre.
5/11/2009 - Tim
The Vassar Theatre was voted "Mid-Michigan''s Best Movie Theatre 2009" in a poll conducted by NBC25. The theatre also garnered more votes and comments than any other business in 63 categories.
1/24/2006 - Tiffany
The theater is now open for business It opened November Of 2005 and looks better that ever
2/13/2003 - Michigans Historic Sites Online
The Vassar Theater is an Art Deco style, utility building, sheathed in contrasting metalon tiles, with a baked enamel finish. The streamlined projecting marquee is trimmed in colors designed to blend with the tiled upper facade. The squared, bay window ticket office and the oval-shaped entrance doors are trimmed in chrome. The theater seats 512. The Vassar Theater is significant as a fine example of the Art Deco theater and as Vassars oldest still operating movie theater. In 1937 Howard and and his wife Grace Smith started a partnership with Howards brother, Stanley. They hired Bennett and Straight, of Dearborn to design the theater and The Long Sign Company of Detroit to design their marquee. The Vassar Theater stayed open until 1979. In 1987 a new owner reopened the theater.
 Photos:6
Vassar Theatre - WINTER 2020
WINTER 2020
Vassar Theatre - WINTER 2020
WINTER 2020
Vassar Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Vassar Theatre - OLD SHOT
OLD SHOT
Vassar Theatre - 2003 SHOT
2003 SHOT
Vassar Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
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