Pix Theatre - Lapeer MI

Address: 172 W Nepessing St
City: Lapeer
State: MI
Zip: 48446
County: Lapeer
Open: 1942
Capacity: 306
Owner History:
Theater Type: Small Town Movie Palace
Number of visits to this page: 12970

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

Constructed in 1941, the PIX Theatre was built by George Smith who began his "show business" life in a production of Uncle Toms Cabin at the White Opera House. When the show went on the road, 18-year-old George went with it. Before long the troupe ended up broke in Chicago and George returned to Lapeer.

Next, George began playing in theater orchestras in Flint and Saginaw where he met and married Vera, the pianist. In 1914, the Smiths opened a small movie theatre next door to what would become the PIX Theatre. Business was good, with tickets selling for five and ten cents. By 1921, the Smiths were ready to expand their business, so they built the Lyric Theatre - the fanciest show house around. Silent movies reigned supreme, accompanied by Vera on the piano until 1928 when "talkies" came to town.

Early in 1940, with movies at the peak of popularity, it was rumored that Harry Hobolth, owner of the Deluxe Theater in neighboring Imlay City, was planning to build a new theater in Lapeer. George Smith - not to be outdone by the competition - quickly set to work locating a site for a new, modern movie house that he would name the PIX Theatre.

George bought the Wattles Bank property and set to work building a theater that would serve the community for decades to come. The PIX opened one year later on April 9, 1941. Its flashing marquee and porcelain enamel panels were the pride of the community. Prior to the Grand Opening presentation of The Bad Man, starring Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore and Ronald Reagan, George Smith declared the policy at the PIX would be "strict adherence to just one aim...the finest of entertainment," and promised never to inflict upon his audiences "such parasitical annoyances and BUNK NIGHT, BANGO, SCREAMO and - most important of all -never a double bill!"

From 1941 to the mid-1950s, Smith operated both the PIX and Lyric theaters, but rarely at the same time. The Lyric was a larger and grander theater, but the PIX had a state-of-the-art cooling system (which in 1941 meant cold water dumped from a well through a series of coils to chill the air before it was blown in to the theater). In the 1950s, with the advent of television, Smith closed the Lyric Theatre for good. After years of private ownership, the PIX closed in 1996 and was purchased by the Downtown Development Authority. Today, the PIX still retains its original art deco facade and marquee, and many of the interior elements were retained during the 1997 $325,000 renovation.

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Info Updates:
8/23/2011 - Randy
Here is a bit from an article from the LA View regarding the restoration of the PIX. (note: Lapeer Days was the weekend of 8/20/11) The historic marquee, an original fixture on the 70-year-old building and an iconic Lapeer landmark, will be taken down and fully restored to its original condition this summer. Plans for its restoration have existed since the City of Lapeer purchased the building in 1996. The restoration will include sandblasting the entire marquee, repainting it, repairing rust, dents and other metal work, repairing the neon and replacing all the light bulbs. Martin said he hopes to have all the work finished and the marquee back on the building before the annual Lapeer Days festival in August. Not sure if it was complete as I did not make it out there for the Lapeer Days.
12/29/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Art Deco Pix was built in 1942 and closed in 1997 when it could no longer compete with the local multiplexes. After being bought and restored by the city of Lapeer, Michigan, the downtown Pix Theatre is showing movies again and serving as a focal point for local arts and community activities. Today, the small, 306-seat theater is doing well financially and may not need city and state grants in the near future. Most of the Pixs income is currently derived from its second-run film showings and theater rental fees.
7/2/2003 - Fred
The Pix was the place to be in the early to mid 80s. For a long time it was a dollar show where you could see seconded run movies. Since being taken over by the City and renovated the Pix is once a great place to see a movie or a show.
Pix Theatre - July 6 2022 Photo
July 6 2022 Photo
Pix Theatre - July 6 2022 Photo
July 6 2022 Photo
Pix Theatre - Fall 2019
Fall 2019
Pix Theatre - Recent Pic
Recent Pic
Pix Theatre - Recent Interior Pic
Recent Interior Pic
Pix Theatre - Booth
Pix Theatre - Auditorium
Pix Theatre - Auditorium
Pix Theatre - Fall 2011 From Randy
Fall 2011 From Randy
Pix Theatre - 1974 Photo From Paul
1974 Photo From Paul
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