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Riviera Theatre


Address: 9222 Grand River Ave.
City: Detroit State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Wayne
Notes: AKA Grand Riviera
View on Mapquest   View on Google Maps   View on Microsoft Live    
Open: 1925 Closed: 1969 Capacity: 2800    
Owner: Unknown
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 12256
 
 

1/13/2015 - Michael Bolan
In October of 1969 I went to the theatre to see Joe Cocker & the Grease Band. The Grande Ballroom was not functioning for a few weeks and Russ Gibb had the British rock artist's play there. I went backstage and took some photo's of Joe & Henry McCullough as they chatted with Dave the MC who had a boa wrapped around his neck. I also recall going there a week later and seeing The Band, King Crimson, and The Kinks perform What a fantastic venue.

12/11/2014 - Charles Lee
Oh what memories this brings back. In the early sixties I would walk to the Riviera on Satrudays to see the matinees they would have there. Usually two or three films. I used to walk all the way from Boston Blvd and 12th (Rosa Parks). Just the walk itself was an adventure.

I can't remember any of the movies I saw there. Usually B rated gladiator movies that were popular at the time. Also some pretty low grade horror movies. I miss the old neighborhood theaters.

9/28/2014 - Carl A. Trocki
As a boy in the 1940s, I lived on Dailey Avenue, just a block off Grand River. My folks often took us kids To the Riviera. I recall standing in a line that stretched for two or three blocks to the east waiting to buy tickets to Bambi. We went there a few times a month. We were so lucky to have such an architectural treasure as our neighborhood theater.

I was so impressed by the luxurious plush carpets and the ornate brass railings on the wide marble stairs that circled up to the balcony seats. Just walking into the rotunda as a seven -year -old kid was a religious experience. That theater was true grandeur, and the children's tickets were only 25 cents!.

8/7/2013 - Susan Sutton
In l992, I wrote a feature about an older lady in the community who had been a club singer during WW II. Come to find out, she had started in show business as a chorus dancer about l928-29 at the Grand Riveria as a member of the Fred Ireland Wonder Dancers. She spoke of the producing team of Ireland and his choreographer wife, Nema Cato. Together they directed, costumed, choreographed and designed sets for their week-changing show that played between movies at the Riv. When we weren't performing, we were rehearsing.

Mrs. Ireland was very strict about that. The Irelands rarely complimented their young performers, but boy, could the find fault. Whee! But that was good for us.

We all worked together and lived together. it was a lot of fun.
6/5/2013 - Franklinschoolgirl
I loved it when my parents drove by it at night when the old marquee was lit up. I thought it the most gorgeous thing - like an enormous tiara.
5/12/2013 - Dave Henry
Oh, what memories have returned after coming across this site! Thanks. I came to Detroit in 1952 at the age of 8 and lived in the Broadstreet, Joy Road area. A few years later my friends and I would go their for the Saturday matinees. These included cartoons, serials such as Rocket Man, Batman, Superman and, of course, Hop-along Cassidy in addition to a movie. On the way home we would ride our imaginary white stallions Topper by sort of skip-shuffling and slapping our rumps to giddy-up.

Monday mornings at McKerrow were spent wondering how, or if, our hero had escaped the tragedy that ended each episode. Don't forget the S. S. Kresge's right across the street.

Thanks again for the trip down memory lane.
3/12/2013 - Patricia Clements
I wondered about what happened to that treasure of a building. I am sorry no one had the wisdom to restore that beauty. Back in the day, when one could see the greats in a more intimate setting, we saw Alice Cooper and Pink Floyd there.
1/24/2013 - Tom from Texas
I saw The Who there, October 11, 1969. Amazing concert, they performed the Tommy album, plus My Generation of course. All the seats had been taken out except the very back row, which my brother and I managed to snag seats in.
7/15/2012 - Michael Bolan
In October 1969 I went to the Riviera because Russ Gibb of the Grande Ballroom reserved the theatre for two months for rock shows. I recall seeing Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, The Kinks, King Crimson, Mott the Hoople, The Band, and others there during those two months. What a fantastic theatre it was and I really appreciated that experience ANyone else with remembrances?.
2/7/2012 - Cari Smith
richard326 on January 30, 2012 at 1:34 pm I was born and raised on Ravenswood st. one block from the Riviera Theatre. My mother Laurine (Bowen) White started work at the Riviera during WWII as secretary and bookkeeper. She was promoted to Manager in 1949 and remained in that position until until 1960 when the beautiful Riviera began to decay. I, and my three sisters practically lived in the theatre.

It gave my wonderful mother the means to raise four children and keep them out of trouble. I had the opportunity to meet the great Judy Garland. To watch backstage as the cast of Damn Yankees and Lil Abner ran about changing costumes and getting ready for their next scene. As a bonus, my Aunt Kathryn was supervisor of the concession stand.

No children ever had it better. Free shows and popcorn. I will always fondly remember the Riviera Theatre.

1/24/2012 - Cari Smith
My Grandmother Laurine Bowen White was the Manager of the Rivera Theatre. And my mother Patricia White and aunts Sue and Faye also worked for the theatre along with my uncle Richard. Before it became a motion picture theatre they hosted Broadway musicals like My Fair Lady with Judi Garland. I know that the first time my mother ever met Jerry Lewis, she accidently walked into his dressing room to find him in his boxer shorts. lol My mother Patricia said she the theatre was her second home, she spent so much time there.

She worked the concession and whatever else my Grandmother needed her to do. When my grandmother was alive, I remember her telling stories about Miss Judy Garland, and other actors like Jerry Lewis. I have told my mother of this site in hopes she can tell a few stories and share some old memories. Now that she see's my comment she probably will.

3/10/2010 - jim
In the mid 90''s I lived in Detroit and enjoyed venturing into the abandoned treasures of the city. I wandered about the old Riviera and made my way to some upper offices that must have been used as storage as the floor was littered about knee deep in canceled checks and between show announcements for coming features, most from the late 30''s into the mid 50''s. I could not see the sense of all this being destroyed so I went to my car and got some trash bags and managed to fill about 3 of them up and take them home. To this day I have boxes of paper work from the place! It was sad as by the time I was in there, the only thing that showed that it was a theater was the massive fire curtain hanging in tatters by the stage, the ornate plaster ceiling long fallen to the floor and the seats having turned to rotten mush. I did make a return visit later in the year with a friend and we brought some tools and managed to liberate a few of the cast iron usher seats from the ends of the rows.

4/15/2007 - Jacki Anderson
I enjoyed your site on the Riviera Theater. My siblings and I are working on a heritage book on my mother''s family. My grandfather, Hector Drouillard, worked as a window decorator/designer for some of the various stores in Detroit (most notably Finsterwald''s) but just today I spoke with my aunt to gather additional info about my grandfather (who died young in 1947). She informed me that he also did some of the decorating (the trees, flowers, etc. ) in the Riviera Theater! I was so glad to find this site and be able to incorporate some of this history in our family book.

And my kids were thrilled to see the photos, not only to see how grand movie theaters used to be, but to know that their great-grand father had a hand in making this particular one so beautiful. Thanks! Jacki Anderson Denver, North Carolina.
2/14/2005 - Fredrick George Ryan
I seem to recall that the Riviera was torn down in June of 1996. I was on my way downtown to be a onsite guide at the Michigan for a Spotlight tour and saw that the demo crane had already knocked down the SE wall adn part of the stagehouse. I stopped and tried to get a brick, but couldnt reach any.
1/15/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Riviera, or Grand Riviera, as it was first called when it was opened in 1925, was the only Detroit-area theater designed by John Eberson. It was built in an atmospheric/Italian Renaissance style, and resembled a palazzo, complete with a spectacular auditorium decorated to look like an outdoor courtyard. Its soaring grand lobby was equally stunning, complete with a grand marble staircase and not one but three great arched windows over front doors. A four-story vertical marquee spelled out the theater's name boldy over Grand River Avenue. The theater opened with the film 'Desert Flower'.

Within a couple years, it was wired for sound. In the early 30s, the 'Grand' was removed from its name-though it was no reflection on the beautiful theater itself-and was from then on known as the Riviera. In 1957, stage shows replaced movies at the Riviera, but returned in 1962. Seven years later, the Riviera closed.

From 1969 until 1974, the Riviera was used for rock concerts, but from then on, was closed, awaiting its next incarnation, which never came. It quickly began to fall into disrepair, and by the 90s, was a sad sight. Unfortunately, one of Detroit's most unique movie palaces was demolished in 1999. Since August 2001, the site has been occupied by the Deroit Grand River Social Security Office.

Cinema Treasures Link.
2/13/2003 - Michigans Historic Sites Online
The Grand Riviera Theater is a brown-brick, three-story structure designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The dominating feature is the eighty foot tall, octagonal corner pavillion with its large, arched, multi-paned windows and liberal application of cream colored terra cotta decoration. Adjoining the pavillion to the west is the three-story, store and office wing. To the north is the windowless auditorium section which has paneled brick walls spanned by the original metal fire escape. The Grand Riviera is the most ornate of the neighborhood movie theaters built in the outlying sections of Detroit in the 1920s.

The theater cost over one million dollars to complete, in 1925 with room for 3,000 making The Grand Riviera Theater the third largest theater in Detroit. The theater was one of John Ebersons atmospheric theaters a very popular concept of the time. The inside of the Grand Riviera resembled an Italian garden at night; artificial vines and flowers were placed around the edges as well as imitation buildings, the ceiling had small lights resembling stars with shadows used to simulate clouds. The theater did very well as a movie house and Vaudeville stage until 1957 when it was converted into a legitimate theater.

The Grand Riviera had lost its place as the premier theater in Detroit after the Fisher opened in 1961 and hosted various concerts until its closure in the mid 1970s.
Riviera Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
Riviera Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
Riviera Theatre - AUDITORIUM AND STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
AUDITORIUM AND STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - CLASSIC EXTERIOR SHOT
CLASSIC EXTERIOR SHOT
Riviera Theatre - AUDITORIUM SHOT
AUDITORIUM SHOT
Riviera Theatre - FRONT OF HOUSE
FRONT OF HOUSE
Riviera Theatre - MARQUEE VIEW
MARQUEE VIEW
Riviera Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT
INTERIOR SHOT
Riviera Theatre - POST CARD VIEW
POST CARD VIEW
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA ROTUNDA CELING FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA ROTUNDA CELING FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA ROTUNDA INT FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA ROTUNDA INT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA ROTUNDA-LOWER VIEW FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA ROTUNDA-LOWER VIEW FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA UPPER MEZZ FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA UPPER MEZZ FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA USHERS FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA USHERS FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA AUDITORIUM REAR FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA AUDITORIUM REAR FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA BALCONY PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA BALCONY PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA ENTRANCE TO MENS SMOKING ROOM FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA ENTRANCE TO MENS SMOKING ROOM FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA LADIES LOUNGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA LADIES LOUNGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA MAIN FL PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA MAIN FL PLAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - NORTHWEST CORNER AUDITORIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
NORTHWEST CORNER AUDITORIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA NW AUD WALL FROM BALCONY FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA NW AUD WALL FROM BALCONY FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA NW WALL-GARDEN TERRACE FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA NW WALL-GARDEN TERRACE FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA PROCENIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA PROCENIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA 2ND LEVEL PLAN
RIVIERA 2ND LEVEL PLAN
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA SE AUD WALL FROM STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA SE AUD WALL FROM STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA SECTION DWG
RIVIERA SECTION DWG
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA SECTION DWG2
RIVIERA SECTION DWG2
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA SOUTHEAST CORNER AUDITORIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA SOUTHEAST CORNER AUDITORIUM FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVIERA MENS SMOKING ROOM FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVIERA MENS SMOKING ROOM FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - SE AUD WALL FROM BALCONY FROM JOHN LAUTER
SE AUD WALL FROM BALCONY FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - NW AUD WALL FROM STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
NW AUD WALL FROM STAGE FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA AUDITORIUM-HOUSE LEFT FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA AUDITORIUM-HOUSE LEFT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA FOYER FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA FOYER FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA HOUSE RIGHT-ORGAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA HOUSE RIGHT-ORGAN FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA INNER FOYER-TOWARDS STREET FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA INNER FOYER-TOWARDS STREET FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA LANDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA LANDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA MEZZ FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA MEZZ FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - RIVERA PERIOD PHOTO FROM JOHN LAUTER
RIVERA PERIOD PHOTO FROM JOHN LAUTER
Riviera Theatre - AUDITORIUM SHOT
AUDITORIUM SHOT
Riviera Theatre - EXTERIOR SHOT
EXTERIOR SHOT
Riviera Theatre - OLD EXTERIOR SHOT
OLD EXTERIOR SHOT
Riviera Theatre - CHANDELIER
CHANDELIER
Riviera Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
Riviera Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD

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