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Michigan Theatre


Address: 238 Bagley St
City: Detroit State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Wayne
Notes:
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Open: 1925 Closed: 1976 Capacity: 4038    
Owner: Kunsky
Web Address: N/A
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 11203
 
 

12/12/2014 - Charles Lee
This breathtaking movie palace stood as a testimony that Detroit was 2nd to no city when it came to majestic movie houses. I remember seeing The Shaggy Dog and Bye Bye Birdie there.
10/16/2011 - Janette Flannery
Where I lived I could walk to downtown and went to the Michigan regularly in the late 60's. It was breathtaken inside. Even as a child I remember standing in the lobby looking around and admiring the beauty. To see the pictures of it as a parking lot is so sad, I think I would rather it have been torn down.

1/15/2008 - Gary Istok
I''ve been in the closed off sections of the former Michigan several times in 2007. Although the remains of the elevator tower and staircases are open to view on the NW corner of the building (Grand River Ave. & Middle St. ), there are closed off sections of the former theatre (SW corner) between the great arched false window (along the Bagley facade) and the former Grand Foyer. In that closed space are staircases from the former mezzanine space, to the 1st balcony foyer, and above that to the 2nd balcony foyer.

These closed off spaces retain their peeling plastwork and carpetting. All ornate fixtures and railings are gone, as is any artwork on the walls. But the broken up remains of the 2 horses with chariot is still found near the great false window. Although the foyers to the mezzanine and 1st balcony were removed in the 1977 gutting, the 2nd balcony foyer (above the grand lobby ceiling) and 3rd balcony foyer (above the 2nd balcony foyer) both still exist.

The 2nd balcony foyer has 2 balcony entrances that today are 2 square holes with a 25 ft. dropoff to the top of the 3 level parking structure.
4/3/2007 - benny speer
9-22-73 we open the Michigan Concert Palace that first show was the infamous New York Dolls the theter worked great for concerts we did many great events KISS first gig, BTO, Arosmith, Bruce Springstine, Seger, a week of David Bowie my band Benny and the Jets got our start there. this is a great site the very best archive i have ever seen on the theater great job Benny Speer with Leo Speer with Gage and Steve Glanz Note I have the 1939 Baldwin stage grand piano and would love to find a loving home for it.

6/12/2006 - JerryD
I worked at the Michigan Theatre in the early sixties, 1962,63 and 1964. It was my first offical employment. I worked all of the service, departments, usher, stand and box office, becomming Chief of Service in June of 62. The manger was Lincoln Friend and the theatre was operated by United Detroit Theatres. The Michigan was a magnificent place to work, it still had the feel and look of a Downtown movie palace, with a full staff of employees, including a Porter, Matron, outside doormen and a full staff of ushers.

There was still plenty of life left in all of downtown Detroit theatres at that time. UDT (Michigan, Grand Circus, Madison and the Palms was the chain thjat originally started Ladies Day on Wednesday, all ladies just. 50Cents, Free Coffee and Donuts. Ladies Day started in June or July 1963 and it brought thousands upon thousands of women to the downtown area.

Ladies Day lasted over twenty years and spread throug out the State. Some of the hit movies during my time at the Michigan, Music Man, Manchurian Candidate. The Great Escape, Son of Flubber and Gypsy. The Michigan seated 4025, on New Years Eve, 1963 we had over 8000 patrons for the evening showings of Gypsy,the biggest crowd I ever worked.

We had the World Premier of No Man is an Island and to promote the event, we had a local radio DJ (Lee Allen, I think) stay on top of the Marquee in a island hut until a certain amount of monies was collected for charity, This stunt was arranged by Marie Meyer, head of UDT advertising department. The time I spent at the Michigan was the time of my life and I will never forget the beauty and vastness of the place. Some of the great people I met and work with were Gil Green, Jack Cataldo, Woody Praught, Marie Meyer, Dick Scklucki, all ledgends in downtown Detroit theatre management. I consider the time I spent there my formal training and education in the movie business.

Im still there. JerryD.
1/15/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Michigan Theater was built for the Kunsky circuit in 1926 by Chicago-based firm Rapp & Rapp, in their traditional French Renaissance style, and sat over 4000 in its cavernous auditorium. It cost over $5 million and was extravagantly elegant. The Michigan's four-story lobby was decorated with a set of huge chandeliers, towering columns painted to resemble multi-colored marble, and oil-paintings and sculpture from Europe. Its grand staircase swept up-wards to a mezzanine level complete with a sitting area with antique furniture and another staircase led to the balcony levels. The auditorium featured a large orchestra pit, and a $50,000 Wurlitzer organ.

Its stage was large enough to accommodate the most elaborate stage shows of the day. Opening day featured the film, 'You'll Never Know Women'. The first sound film at the Michigan was in 1928, 'Sawdust Paradise'. In 1933, United Detroit Theaters acquired the Michigan from Paramount-Publix/Balaban & Katz, who had in turn, purchased it from Kunsky.

By the end of the 30s, both the live stage shows and the grand Wurlitzer organ were gone, and the theater featured only movies. In 1954, a wide screen was installed, damaging the proscenium arch's ornate plasterwork. The first Vista-vision film screened at the Michigan was 'The Command'. The original multi-story vertical marquee on the Michigan was removed in 1952 and replaced with a much plainer standard marquee.

After declining attendance made the theater unprofitable for United Detroit to keep operating during most of the 60s, they closed it in 1967. Nicholas George reopened the theater later the same year, but it struggled and was shuttered three years later. In 1973, it was converted into a nightclub, the Michigan Palace but only lasted several months before going out of business. Until 1976, it was used for rock concerts.

The theater's owners at the time decided to convert the magnificent palace into a three level parking garage. While portions of the lobby, upper balcony and the projection booth are somewhat intact, the auditorium was stripped down to its shell except for the ceiling and parts of the upper proscenium arch, which still hang on the garage's upper floor looking like ancient Roman ruins. You can still see the holes in the plasterwork where the chandeliers once hung, and there are still areas where the plasterwork remains gilded despite the grime and neglect of decades. The theater can be seen in the movie 8 Mile in the background as they rap before they enter the Chin Tiki, and is also featured in Lose Yourself, by Eminem as a stage backdrop.

Cinema Treasures Link.
1/10/2004 - Box Office Magazine
March 1959 Issue - Ben Johnson, formerly of the Fisher, is now first assistant at the Michigan, succeeding Ray Hill, while Frank Dillon, formerly of the Cinderella, is second assistant manager at the Michigan.
1/10/2004 - Box Office Magazine
March 1959 Issue - Helen Bower, flim critic for the Free Press, was one of three judges for the cat show staged at the Michigan Theatre in a promotion for Bell, Book and Candle. Ninety cats showed up for the show. Variety Club had an informal get-together Friday with a guest spot held open till the last minute in case Variety's founder John H. Harris, should arrive in town from California as was anticipated during the local run of the show, the Ice Capades at the Olympia.

12/19/2003 - Box Office Magazine
April 1959 - Pedestrians will get accustomed to seeing TV comedian Soupy Sales pedaling his bicycle furiously between the Michigan and Palms Theatres when he holds his annual free matinee at the two UDT houses for all of the thousands of his Soupy Sales Bird Bath Club Members, with personal appearances squeezed in between comedies on screen.
Michigan Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
Michigan Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
Michigan Theatre - OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
Michigan Theatre - MICHIGAN THEATRE BUILDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
MICHIGAN THEATRE BUILDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - CLASSIC EXTERIOR SHOT
CLASSIC EXTERIOR SHOT
Michigan Theatre - OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
Michigan Theatre - OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
OLD PIC FROM WAYNE STATE LIBRARY
Michigan Theatre - OLD AUDITORIUM SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
OLD AUDITORIUM SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - OLD LOBBY SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
OLD LOBBY SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - ARTHUR GUTOW MICHIGAN WURLITZER FROM JOHN LAUTER
ARTHUR GUTOW MICHIGAN WURLITZER FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - EXTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
EXTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - FOUNTAIN IN FOYER FROM JOHN LAUTER
FOUNTAIN IN FOYER FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - ORGAN INFO FROM JOHN LAUTER
ORGAN INFO FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - AUDITORIUM
AUDITORIUM
Michigan Theatre - OLD MARQUEE SHOT
OLD MARQUEE SHOT
Michigan Theatre - OLD MARQUEE SHOT
OLD MARQUEE SHOT
Michigan Theatre - UA WAS RIGHT DOWN STREET
UA WAS RIGHT DOWN STREET
Michigan Theatre - NOW A PARKING GARAGE
NOW A PARKING GARAGE
Michigan Theatre - NOW A PARKING GARAGE
NOW A PARKING GARAGE
Michigan Theatre - RECENT EXTERIOR SHOT
RECENT EXTERIOR SHOT
Michigan Theatre - RECENT EXTERIOR SHOT
RECENT EXTERIOR SHOT
Michigan Theatre - HORSES ON STAIR LANDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
HORSES ON STAIR LANDING FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - PROJECTION BOOTH FROM JOHN LAUTER
PROJECTION BOOTH FROM JOHN LAUTER
Michigan Theatre - MICHIGAN THEATRE GALLERY
MICHIGAN THEATRE GALLERY
Michigan Theatre - MICHIGAN THEATRE LOBBY STATUE
MICHIGAN THEATRE LOBBY STATUE
Michigan Theatre - MICHIGAN THEATRE STAIR STATUE
MICHIGAN THEATRE STAIR STATUE
Michigan Theatre - FROM ROBERT MORROW
FROM ROBERT MORROW
Michigan Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
Michigan Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
Michigan Theatre - OLD AD FROM JOHN LAUTER
OLD AD FROM JOHN LAUTER

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