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The Lake opened in the late 40s, and sat around 300. It operated for many years and was even a porn house for a short period. Eventually, it was converted to an archery range and bait shop. After that closed, it sat dormant for many years. It was torn down in 2003 after falling into disrepair. The photos on this page are from a set I took when I was considering buying the theater (in the late 1980's) in the hopes of re-opening it.
I got an estimate on the repairs that would have been needed and it was substantial. The electrical, plumbing and HVAC were shot. The roof leaked. It would have also needed all new seating, projection, audio gear and a new screen. Those expenses added to the 150k or so the owners were asking made the investment untenable. A single screen theater wouldn't have generated enough revenue to justify the investment.
It's a shame because the city really wanted it to happen. The place was an eyesore and they needed a nighttime entertainment draw for the town. The fact that I was looking into it and speaking with the city generated a mention in the Spinal Column Newspaper. The locals were excited as was I until I looked at the numbers.
My grandfather A.S. "Al" Johnson built the Lake Theatre in Walled Lake, but family records don't include the year of the project. An undated newspaper advertisement for the "New Lake Theatre" lists a 1947 film "The Voice of the Turtle," so it's likely that the theater opened in 1947 or 1948.
The theater was located at 420 Pontiac Trail. After the theater closed, the building went on to house a variety of businesses before being demolished. In June 1948 Al shot a slide from outside the theatre (see below). In this image, the entrance has a pair of red double doors with half-moon glass. These are the classic "Johnson doors" for which my grandfather was said to have held a patent. The theater is tan with red accents and the marquee is cream and maroon. Humphrey Bogart's classic 1948 film "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" appears on the marquee.
The Cinema Treasures website offers this history: "The Lake opened in the late 40s, and [seated] around 300. After the theater closed, it was used as a bait shop. It was torn down in 2003 after falling into disrepair, having stood vacant for many years."