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Wayne Theatre

Address: 35164 Michigan Ave
City: Wayne State: MI Zip: 48184 Phone: (734) 728-7469  
County: Wayne
Notes: AKA: Shafer Wayne
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Open: 1927 Closed: 1951 Capacity: 850    
Owner: Unknown
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 5129

9/11/2012 - Paul A. Liedel
For the latest information about the State Theatre, go to State Theatre - Wayne. There you will find a statement from Cory Jocobson, owner of Phoenix theatres about his plans for the State Theatre in Wayne.
9/10/2012 - Ryan Walch
The state Wayne was not sold by the city. The city and Phoenix have reached a management agreement to be updated and run not on the city budget.
9/4/2012 - Chris Hurley
State-Wayne Theatre in Wayne has been sold by the City of Wayne, and is now owned by Phoenix Theatres, who have great plans to upgrade the movie house! Yes! This historic movie theatre will continue to stay open and the movie experience will get even better. www. phoenixmovies. net/loc_statewayne. asp.

10/28/2009 - Brian
While on another site, I got to thinking of this theatre. I read the last post about the plan to attract Hudsons to come to Wayne. I myself had only heard about it, But have never seen it in print. Every time I do drive by the site of the Wayne Theatre, I wonder what might have been.

9/28/2009 - ML
I dont know if they condem for safety concerns and/or city insurance reasons, but the latter may play a role. some buildings are just in that bad of shape, especially large tall brick ones and the restoration costs are usually out of the reach of private owners. I was never in that theatre in its operatable form since the newer state theatre had allready been in operation since around or before the time i was born (mid sixties) but as a bycycle riding child i was all over that poperty back there when i was younger and couldnt fathom it ever being a theatre because of it strict and non-existant thetre like design. It was just a big sqaure brick building from the back, and the facade built into store fronts along mi. ave.

in the front, the marquee had been long gone and indistinguishable from the rest of the store fronts along the way. Also i heard there had been a large tragic downtown fire at one time nearly threatening the existence of the theatre itself resulting in the constuction of that big bank building (in-between the store fronts)Wayne has changed so much, but most of that change took place back in the early sixties. the city had begun demolishing most of what you dont even know of as downtown, buildings were prevalent on both sides of michigan avenue (what is now known as the west bound lanes) to try and attract the j. l.

hudson corporation which we now know was constucted in westland along with the shopping center that was built there and lost to the city of wayne, thats why they cleared out so much downtown propery. Regrettably wayne never did ''really'' re-bound from those gallant efforts to become the epicenter and dearborn like attraction of the area they had so dearly planned for.
2/9/2009 - geoff h.
I used to work here when it was a haunted house from 1987-1989 ,i think, and what a blast we had. we used to wander all over in the balcony and down in the old dressing rooms in the basement before we opened (of course the guy running the place, Dave, didn''t know). It is also this same balcony were my grandparents started dating back in the 1930''s.
9/21/2008 - Brian
After all is said and done , at least those who tried to save it did what they could. But it ended up like many buildings here in Wayne another empty lot. SO long Wayne Theatre, RIP.
9/19/2008 - Sean Fitzgerald
Very sad but no one in that hell hole of strip malls has a clue and you know someone is getting greased at the top for the land. Wayne /Westland has always been a cultural waste land. This is why I live in F dale and spend all my money and time in there and in Detroit. i will never set foot in Wayne again as long as I live.

9/18/2008 - Ryan
Final HoursIn the final hours you relize what washow its been and how it could of been. With every passing swingyou wonder if the fights worth it somethimes it issomethimes its not. With every endingthere is a new begininga new sign of hope and a new fightto fight. Histoy makes way for progressas death makes way for life. In the final hours you look to the pastand to the future, with hope to not repet the bad,and hope to repet the good.

9/16/2008 - Jeff Lacey
I drove by the theater today, and it looks like the city has started to tear it down.
9/20/2007 - Sean Fitzgerald
Unfortunately the people trying to restore this beautiful theatre are up against the city again. What is it about city governments that make such dump choices. How on earth could they even consider tearing this down. Must be some land grabbing going on and some kickbacks somewhere. Anyway this is a message I got today.

The Wayne Theatre will be the discussions of a dangerous building hearing. The hearing will decide if the the City will let us continue our efforts to restore The Historic Wayne Theatre. If is determined that we failed in our effort to raise funds this year the Theatre will be torn down. Please send a word of support to any of the following ways of contact.

City of Wayne Contact info:City Manager ~ (734) 722-2001Community Development Director ~ (734) 722-2002Address ~ 3355 S. Wayne Rd. Wayne MI 48184Phone ~ (734) 722-2204 Fax ~ (734) 722-5052Contacr Form ~ http://www. ci.

wayne. mi. us/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19&Itemid=33Thank You! The hearing is at the city hall 2:00pm.

8/22/2006 - Renee Abbott
We are having events in the front yard (formerly lobby and store-fronts before fire) almost every Saturday this summer until the end of Sept. Visit www. historicwaynetheatre. com and go to event calendar for dates/info. I am organizing the Ultimate Animal Connection, there will be several Animal Rescue Groups there trying to find homes for their animals.

This is a way to get different groups of people to comeout and get involved in saving the theatre, and helping animals, what could be better?! Free Admission to this event. Plus, you can come and checkout the inside of the theatre auditorium. Still a beautiful site! We have approx. 1 year to raise $4.

2 million dollars or the theatre will be no more! We are working with the Garrison Company, they are drawing up future plans for the lobby/store-front rebuild. The City of Wayne has been working with us too! Things are looking better than they have in MANY years for the theatre. Please come out and help save a piece of Vaudeville History! Thanks!.
3/27/2006 - Don Nicholson
The City is actually doing its job. The previous boards basicly ran haunted theatres in the building and didnt do much in the way of restoration. The city has been looking at a building that has not changed in 20 years. That is over.

T The Board that is in place now has a vision and with the help of the public and the city working with us we will be open in May of 2007. Please feel free to drop by and join in working on the theatre. We also are happy to give tours.

3/25/2006 - Sean Fitzgerald
What is wrong with the city of Wayne??!! Do they not know what a great thing this theatre would be. for their town? I drive by it on Michigan every week and go I cant wait to see some good films or some good music there!. Wayne needs all the positive businesses it cam get. Look at Plymouth and the theatre district in Detroit, the Gem, the State, the Fox, the Music Hall the Opera House.

3/23/2006 - Renee Abbott
I am on the Board of Directors for the newly formed Wayne Theatre Corp. We hope to raise enough money to Re-open the Wayne Theatre in May 2007. We are currently having issues about the theatre with the City of Wayne. We hope to work things out and continue our restoration. Our ideal plan is to open the theatre as a community theatre that everyone can enjoy! We plan to have plays, concerts, school productions, vintage movie festivals, etc.

Please visit us at www. historicwaynetheatre. com.
8/14/2005 - Sean Fitzgerald
What are the chances of putting on acoustic music shows here????.
1/13/2004 - Web
Wayne Theatre History - Part 1 The Wayne Theatre is one of the few remaining vaudeville houses in Michigan. It’s a true treasure. Help save it from the wrecking ball and preserve a part of our heritage for future generations. This is a story of a theatre that once was the talk of western Wayne County. Today it's all but forgotten.

The final chapter, however, is yet to be written. If a group of concerned citizens are successful, the story will tell of a theatre that literally returned from the grave to live again with laughter and applause. Back in 1926, when most of the area was rural farmland, when Michigan Avenue was the main highway between Detroit and Chicago. The Village of Wayne was the hub of activity, local businessmen built a theatre and hotel complex.

It included five stores along Michigan Avenue and a bowling alley in the basement. The Wayne Theatre, by all accounts, was one of the most beautiful ever built in a small town. It seated 850 (625 on the main floor, 225 in the balcony) and featured excellent acoustics, a full orchestra pit and a fly loft for stage curtains. Ads called it The Pride of Wayne.

They promised the latest in photo plays (that's what they called movies in those days) and the best in Vaudeville on Saturday and Sunday. Opening night was August 27, 1927. Newspaper articles tell of patrons lined up for more then a block when the doors opened at 6:30 p. m.

a standing-room-only audience saw Marion Davis in Tillie the Toiler, an our gang comedy, 'Yale vs. Harvard, a Paramount News Short, and five Vaudeville Acts. The shows were a hit. Soon, it was the most popular Theatre in town.

The Woodward Theatre Company, headed by Henry S. Koppin, operated the theatre. Koppin managed 26 Theatres in Michigan that were popularly known in the Midwest as the Koppin Vaudeville Circuit. Many big acts toured Detroit, such as Al Jolson and Fred Astaire, also played the Wayne.

Special radio nights included a broadcast of Jack Dempsey - Gene Tunney fight. And radio station WJR regularly presented The Oklahoma Cowboys live from the stage. But, alas, the stock market crash of 1929 caused Koppin to close his chain of theatres. A few months later Walter Shafer borrowed $500.

00 dollars from his mother and reopened the Wayne Theatre and operated it with his sons, Charles and Martin, as a movie house until 1951, when it was closed. The Shafers had recently opened the larger, more modern State down the street. As with the Vaudeville that was once so popular, the Wayne Theatre soon became but a fond memory. The lobby of the Wayne was converted into a music store.

Occasionally, high schools used the stage. Eventually, however, the seats were removed, and the auditorium was partitioned into music and dance rehearsal rooms. It remained that way until April 1985, when a fire destroyed the lobby and the stores along Michigan Avenue. The theatre itself sustained only minor smoke and water damage.

1/13/2004 - Web
Wayne Theatre History - Part 2 It sat vacant and fenced for nearly two years. Finally, a group of theatre buffs formed a non-profit corporation to restore the theatre called The Palace Theater Company, named after the Palace Opera House that was built in Wayne in 1886. An open house was held August 27,1987 (60 years after opening night) to announce restoration plans. These plans include rebuilding of the lobby, refurbishing the auditorium to its former splendor and creating a performing arts center for the Western Wayne County area. The Wayne Theatre is one of the few remaining vaudeville houses in Michigan.

It's a true historic treasure. We want to save it from the wrecking ball and preserve a part of our heritage for future generations. Building idea born in the woods The question of building a theatre and hotel in Wayne was first mentioned while in camp at Mr. George M.

Stellwagon lodge near Grand Marais, Michigan, during deer hunting season of 1925. Mr. Stellwagon, C. K.

Miller, R. W. Reiser, and John Hawthorne were in the group, and these four individuals later became the principals who succeeded in stirring up enough enthusiasm to put the proposition across. After their return from camp it was decided to interest other Wayne men in the project, the promotion plan being left to Mr.

Charles K. Miller. Realizing the need for a theatre and hotel here, the original four men had little difficulty in getting at the proposition as they did, a doubt that was soon dispelled after first promotion work started. They felt certain that if they could have the men they wanted in camp with them, with nothing to do in the long evenings but plan such ventures, the proposition could be pulled over, but it was a long while to wait until the next hunting season.

However, to the credit of those interested in the enterprise, it was not necessary to deport them into deer country in November, with the result of Wayne people are going to enjoy to the utmost entertainment possibilities offered by the new theatre, as well as, express their praise for the hotel and incidentally, the men who had the faith to see this thing though to the finish. Management of Construction Handling the construction work and outlining the plans and specifications for Wayne's new hotel and theatre building was entirely in line with the earlier experiences of C. K. Miller.

Before coming to Wayne as a efficiency engineer for the old Harroun Motors Company in the spring of 1917, he had been associated with several prominent automobile and building concerns as construction manager or as an expert on gasoline engine carburetion. But for the fact that Wayne had someone qualified to take the lead in a building project such as the new Wayne Theatre represents and one who, without expense, could prepare the initial plans and details for presentation to local men it is unlikely that this structure would of been a possibility at the present time. From the inception of the idea until the building was turned over to the leasing company and serving in such a capacity has kept him a very busy individual. Mr.

Miller was born in Sandusky, Ohio but received his first training in the contraction business in Colorado where he moved with his parents. This work was later followed by his entry into the machinery installation field, putting in several years as state representative for some of the country's largest equipment houses. Much of this work was conducted in connection with the mining industry in Colorado. In 1916, he relocated to Detroit, as an automobile distributor, since which time he has been more or less closely connected with this industry.

After a year spent with the Harroun in Wayne, Mr. Miller was giving charge of a Detroit plant for a trust company. In 1918 he returned to Wayne and took charge for the government in the installation of a million and a quarter's worth of machinery in the Harroun plant, which was then entering upon war work. Between the completion of this work and his purchase of the George C.

Walker garage in Wayne in 1920 Mr. Miller served as construction engineer for the Timkin Axle and Maxwell Motors, in Detroit. He was the oldest Willys-knight and Overland dealer in the country, his success in this line having necessitated and enlarging of his garage in 1923, this being the first building in Wayne having steel roof trusses. His work in connection with the new theatre has been a sideline but it has been a most important one from the standpoint of service he has rendered the men with whom he had been associated.

Wayne Theatre Corporation Formed Organization of the Wayne Theatre Corporation was completed in the summer of 1926, following an informal gathering of local business men who had become interested in the project. R. W. Reiser was named president of the company; Harry Goodman, vice-president; George Gerbstad, secretary; and John Truesdell, treasurer.

These men, with Charles A. Handeyside, comprise the board of directors. Other stockholders of the corporation were William Meyers, T. A.

Jamieson, John E. Hawthorne, C. C. Maben, William F.

Hoffman, A. S. Poole, Elizabeth Stellwagon, Agness Stellwagon, Matthew H Tinkham, William E. Rice, Adolf Knorfske, Andrew Moore, Frank Bewernitz, George M.

Stellwagon, and Charles K. Miller then later named general manager and had active charge of all details of construction. Without exception these people were all residents of the community and all during the process of promotion and construction the idea had been the uppermost of making the theatre and hotel a proposition that would merit the pride of the territory in and around Wayne. The same idea was carried out in the letting of the contracts on the building, in every case where it was all possible, the work being given to individuals or firms located within the community.

Actual promotion of the theatre proposition was started in January 1926. The first work had begun on August 2, 1926 and the beginning of work above grade had its start December 3, 1926. During the construction period 28 days were lost because of weather conditions when the foundations were being made and another 12 days after the building was ready to be enclosed.

1/13/2004 - Web
Wayne Theatre History - Part 3 Cement Plays a Big Part in Theatre Construction Use of this material whenever possible lowers all the risk of fires. The Wayne theatre has been made as nearly fire proof as possible by the use of concrete through its construction. The combination of steel and cement has been worked out in harmonious proportions in the Wayne theatre where the most modern methods of employing these materials were used. The cement work, from the foundation to the roof, as well as, the mason work in the theatre job was done by Arrowsmith Brothers, Ernie & George, local contractors whose reputation for this work had been well established in this part of the country. The first cement was poured in August 1926 and from then until July 1927.

Arrowsmith Brothers employed a large number of men, necessary to complete their part of the work on schedule time. A glimpse at the theatre today does not give a proper idea of the amount of cement work necessary for a building of this kind and people who see only the tastily decorated walls will scarcely realize that underneath all the beauty lies a mass of concrete and steel that was used to insure the patrons safety at all times. The floors, dressing rooms, stage enclosures, projection room and all other parts where wood was not essential, are of reinforced concrete. In addition to the theatre's spacious stage accommodations provided as well as graceful lines that characterized the entire beauty scheme, the stage was provided with a score of drops and scenery sufficient for vaudeville acts.

Modern stage equipment had been installed, with dressing rooms and orchestra room underneath. Every seat in the theatre had an unobstructed view of the stage. Accommodations are provided for 850 patrons although an additional 100 seats could have been provided if necessary. The ladies lounge is located on the balcony floor and is reached from the foyer by an ornamental stairway.

The smoking room is in the basement, entrance also being from the foyer. Floors are heavily carpeted with the furnishings in keeping with the general color scheme. Walls furnished in antique plaster and delicately tinted, its wide entrance and exit aisles, handsome stairways to the balcony and magnificent electrical fixtures. The hotel part of the building had 21 rooms with a handsome lobby, all rooms had running water and Quality baths as part of their equipment.

Five store spaces with the first two occupied by local businessmen, L. A. Tooley Confectionery Shop and Steins Flower Shop. And in the basement a bowling alley.

Erected by the Wayne Theatre Corporation, composed of people from this vicinity, the entire building was leased early spring of 1926 to the Woodward Theatre Company, of Detroit. Henry S. Koppin, who operated a string of 26 theatres in and around the city, was head of the leasing company. In announcing their policy of operating the Wayne Theatre Mr.

Koppin stated that only the best in films would be sent to the local house. On Saturday and Sunday vaudeville was added to the regular bill, the program was continuous from 2 until 11 P. M. on these days.

Walter Dennis Shafer from Indianapolis, Indiana where he had been a public stenographer joined the Fox organization and learned theatre management in New York and New Jersey. He met his wife, Lillian Thiemer, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. In 1921 he became manager of the Fox Theatre on Washington Boulevard, Detroit which was torn down and stuffer's was built. Five years later he helped supervise the building of the present Fox Theatre on Woodward and was put in charge after it opened.

But in 1927 Shafer left Fox and joined the Koppin vaudeville circuit as general manager of theatres in Detroit, Flint, Dearborn, and Wayne. With the depression, he left the circuit and took over the Wayne Theatre in Wayne. The 1932 bank holiday hit him hard, but he hung on to his theatre and kept going. By 1939 he was financially able to begin building new theatres, followed later by drive-ins.

The Charles Shafer still owns the Ford Wyoming Drive-In theatre in Dearborn, their last and only theatre. Mr. Martin Shafer once told me that once a year they had to change the light bulbs in the theatre. There were a total of 8 chandeliers in the theatre, 4 in the main hall that lowered by a cable and 4 in the balcony.

The chandeliers in the balcony, 2 were lowered by a cable and 2 were not. Martin remembers that time most off all because he was the smallest one out of his brother and father. They used to have to wedge a strait ladder under the seats in the very back row. While his father and brother would hold the ladder, Martin would have to dangle out on the ladder to the chandelier to change the bulbs, which there was nothing under him except a 20-foot fall.

He said, “my mother had a death every time he did that“. Martin also remembers back when they first opened the theatre they did not sell concessions, there was a popcorn vender that would sit out on the corner of Wayne rd. and Michigan Ave. Patrons would stop before the show and purchase some popcorn then come see the show.

Walter Shafer, while the show was on, had the boys, Charles and Martin watch to see if any patrons would drop any popcorn onto the floor. If they did drop any popcorn they had to clean it up right away because his father did not want any critters coming in the theatre while the show was going. We would like to put a book of memoirs together of your memories of the Wayne theatre please contact us and let us know your memories. The Wayne Theatre Corporation The Wayne Theatre Corporation is an all-volunteer, non-profit corporation, consisting of local citizens with a goal of providing a place of cultural enrichment not just the Wayne/Westland area, but for all of Western Wayne County.

We want the theatre to be a community center, a place where high school drama classes could rehearse and put shows on for the community, hold high school reunions, or have a marionette show put on for a kindergarten class, anything that the theatre could be used for. The Theatre is here for the community’s use for anything they would like to see done with it. We need help in reaching this goal. We consist of 9 board members and about 1000 volunteers.

We need help in many different fields. We currently are working on getting the theatre into shape as a theatre again in utilizing what we have. We need plaster repair, grant writing, Electricians, etc. We need your help in reaching our goal!.

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