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Madison Theatre


Address: 22 Witherell St
City: Detroit State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Wayne
Notes:
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Open: 1917 Closed: 1983 Capacity: 1806    
Owner: Kunsky
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 6517
 
 

10/16/2011 - Janette Flannery
I remember my Mother taking me to the showing of Gone With the Wind. I have the same blue ticket like the one shown below. You wore your Sunday best. During intermission I remember being in the lobby watching women in their furs and diamonds, I had never seen anything like it. For my Mother just buying those tickets was a lot for her.

It seems like I remember you were able to buy cocktails in the lobby.
10/24/2006 - Scott Michaels
I worked as a projectionist at the Madison for a couple of years, under Chris Jasczak - we mostly showed action films, and we also had 70mm capacity. The projectors were Bauers, considered the Rolls Royce of projectors. While I was there, it was pretty run down. I remember people sometimes sat with their rears on the top of the seats, to keep their feet off the ground, because of the rats. Saw a few live shows there, including The Busboys, who totally rocked the place.

Now its completely gone - a hollow shell, only the marquee remains.
4/29/2004 - Greg Fitrakis
I started as an usher at the Madison Theatre in 1959. I entered Management and was sent to the Ramona Theatre for training with Jack Cataldo. IN the years that followed I managed many, many theatres but the biggest thrill was becoming the Madison Theatre Manager in 1970.
4/21/2004 - Box Office Magazine
October 17, 1960 Issue - The Madison, one of Detroits oldest theatres, after being treated to an extensive remodeling that cost well over $100,000, is now being exploited as the New for You theatre. Indeed, according to Woodrow R. Fraught, president of United Detroit Theatres, little remains of the old Madison Theatre except the original shell and its fine reputation for showing the best in motion pictures. French Bois Jordan marble has replaced the former red Marlite front, and the ex- terior boxoffice was removed from the front of the house entirely and replaced by glass doors. New poster cases were installed on the front and on the returns.

A special boxoffice for reserved - seat sales was also removed from the outer lobby and the two replaced by a semiportable, counter-type boxoffice which is designed for efficient handling of roadshow ticket sales while giving an air of spaciousness to the lobby. It is covered with walnut-finish Formica, and glass partitions are used above the counter height. Quarry tile was installed in front of the boxoffice and a portion of the lobby, the balance of the lobby and foyer being carpeted in a scarlet and maroon pattern with gold motif. Upper lobby walls have been decorated with red and white flock paper in panels, with the balance of the upper walls painted blue with white trim.

The ceiling is painted blue, The lower lobby walls are finished in black-vein on gold vinyl wallpaper. An old Italian mirror over the foyer doors, on the entrance side, creates the illusion of a much longer lobby. The foyer doors have been recovered in walnut Formica. New, Colonial-type ceiling lighting fixtures in the lobby were installed.

The old refreshment stand, which stood out in the lobby where the boxoffice is now located, has been replaced by an attractive, modern candy store located just back of the seats and facing the foyer. It is made brilliant by fluoreScent ceiling lights with egg-crate covering, A special can-can (the theatres reopening feature) wallpaper pattern is appropriately used on the rear wall. The working area is covered with vinyl floor tile, while quarry tile is used on the patrons side. New seating was installed with chairs spaced 40 inches from back to back, providing generous leg room that is the talk of the town-and cutting down seating capacity by about 100.

Seats are covered with coral nylon, and have foam rubber-padded spring seats, and spring-padded backs. New stage equipment includes: new curtain, of the same color as the seats; valance 17x80 feet; curtain, 32x80 feet; curved track and automatic close-in control mechanism. Another addition was a 54x24-foot screen. Booth equipment was supplied by National Theatre Supply Co.

1/13/2004 - Cinema Treasures
When the Madison opened in 1917, its $500,000 cost was one of the heftiest yet for a theater in downtown Detroit. Built for the Kunsky circuit by C. Howard Crane in an elegant, understated neo-classical style, it could seat over 1800 and was then the largest of the theaters in Detroit's former theater district, Grand Circus Park. As with many theaters of the 1910s and 1920s, it was built along with an office tower, in case moving pictures were 'just a passing fad' and no longer profitable. The Madison was surrounded by a five story office building with a facade covered in terra cotta decoration in a classical motif.

Other than a small, relatively simple marquee (removed in the 60s in favor of a larger and tackier one), the Madison could pass for a typical office block. The top floor of the Madison Building housed the Kunksy circuit's main offices when it first opened. The Madison also enjoyed immediate success, opening with the film 'Poor Little Rich Girl'. Its features included gilded plasterwork in the auditorium and lobby spaces, including a frieze of maidens over the stage's proscenium arch and a tiered orchestra pit.

By the late 20s and early 30s, several larger and far more ornate palaces had joined the Madison on Grand Circus Park, such as the Capitol (just across the street), the State, the Fox and the United Artists, but the Madison continued to remain a popular venue for many more years. In the 40s, Kunsky sold the Madison to United Detroit Theaters, which had the theater drastically remodeled in 1961, destroying the orginal neo-classical facade with a drab 60s one. Fortunately, the interior was left mostly intact. It was Detroit's first theater to screen a film in 3D, 'Bwana Devil', in 1952.

In 1960, the theater switched over to 70mm film, with 'Spartacus', which had a long run, but nowhere near as long as the almost two-year run of 'The Sound of Music' beginning in 1965. By the late 70s and early 80s, the Madison had begun to decline, and in addition to horror and action films, was hosting rock concerts on its stage in order to help keep the theater open. However, this wasn't enough. In 1984, the Madison was shuttered, its last film, ironically, was 'The Dead Zone' (which remained on its marquee for a long time after it had closed).

In the 90s, the Michigan Opera Theater, which purchased the Capitol Theater to remake it into their new home, also acquired the Madison and announced plans to restore it for use as a performing arts center, but were ultimately unable to raise enough money. It was sold to a developer in 2000 who intended to replace the theater with loft units (though the Madison Building behind the theater would remain). Though in poor shape (a victim of heavy water damage and decades of neglect), the Madison was still restorable, but nevertheless was razed later that year. Cinema Treasures Link.

1/10/2004 - Box Office Magazine
March 1959 Issue - The Greater Detroit Motion Picture Council held its monthly meeting at the Crowley Milner Auditorium and heard a discussion and a review of coming films by the manager of the Madison Theatre, Glen McLean.
12/19/2003 - Box Office Magazine
February 1959 - Horstman and Co. get the job to install a new marquee at the Madison. The new marquee will provide 40% more space for copy than the old marquee. It features a new kind of slimline lighting.

12/18/2003 - Box Office Magazine
April 1959 - Installation of 70mm equipment in the Madison Theatre was announced by Woodrow R. Praught, in his first public statement since recently assuming the presidency of United Detroit Theatres. The Madison, oldest first-run in the big circuit, is traditionally the home of long runs. The installation is scheduled for completion May 15.

Madison Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
Madison Theatre - OLD PHOTO FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
OLD PHOTO FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
Madison Theatre - LOBBY
LOBBY
Madison Theatre - LOBBY
LOBBY
Madison Theatre - AUDITORIUM
AUDITORIUM
Madison Theatre - AUDITORIUM
AUDITORIUM
Madison Theatre - ENTRANCE
ENTRANCE
Madison Theatre - LOBBY
LOBBY
Madison Theatre - OLD LOBBY
OLD LOBBY
Madison Theatre - OLD LOBBY
OLD LOBBY
Madison Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
Madison Theatre - OLD EXTERIOR VIEW
OLD EXTERIOR VIEW
Madison Theatre - OLD INTERIOR VIEW
OLD INTERIOR VIEW
Madison Theatre - AUDITORIUM
AUDITORIUM
Madison Theatre - ENTRANCE
ENTRANCE
Madison Theatre - OLD EXTERIOR
OLD EXTERIOR
Madison Theatre - OLD PIC OF BUILDING
OLD PIC OF BUILDING
Madison Theatre - OLD AUDITORIUM VIEW
OLD AUDITORIUM VIEW
Madison Theatre - RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
RECENT MARQUEE SHOT
Madison Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
Madison Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
Madison Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
Madison Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
Madison Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
Madison Theatre - 1920S FROM PAUL
1920S FROM PAUL
Madison Theatre - TICKET FROM GARY FLINN
TICKET FROM GARY FLINN

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