Liberty Theatre - Benton Harbor MI

Address: 212 East Main Street
City: Benton Harbor
State: MI
Zip: 49022
County: Berrien
Open: 1922
Owner History: Butterfield Theatres
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 14837

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:

Source: Michigans Historic Sites Online

The Liberty Theater is a rectangular, two-story, flat-roof, brick commercial structure whose Sullivanesque front facade displays white terra cotta ornamentation of historical inspiration. The central portion of the facade projects forward slightly and its stepped parapet holds a central cartouche enframed by festoons above a main cornice with garland frieze that caps the second story.

The second story contains five, square-head windows. Terra cotta medallions of identical design decorate the wall surfaces beside the windows and the parapet at either end of the festoon band. A lintel below the windows is supported on decorative consoles. The wall surface to either side of the facades projecting central area is treated as a panel. Each panel displays a centrally positioned ornamental cluster with cartouche and festoons, and, below, a medallion identical in design to those at second-story and parapet levels.

The facades renovated street level has a Moderne treatment, including enamelled metal panels on the V-shaped marquee. The theater interior with its arched ceiling displays elaborate plaster work which is now deteriorated due to water infiltration. The Liberty Theater has historical significance as Benton Harbors largest movie palace and as the site of movie patronage for over fifty years. Completed in February 1922, the Liberty was constructed by the Blair McElroy and Kenneth Fitzpatrick theater syndicate.

A little less than seven years later, the Liberty Theater, now owned by the Walter Scott Butterfield theater chain, hosted the first sound film viewed in Benton Harbor. After over half a century of patronage, and with the opening of multi-screen theaters, the Liberty Theater closed in 1975. The city purchased the building in 1989. While the theater remains vacant, the city of Benton Harbor hopes historic designation will lead to financial assistance from the public and the private sector to restore and to rehabilitate the former movie palace.

Info Updates:
12/22/2007 - Loretta Fuller
A few years back I was reading a biography of Groucho Marx. It said that the Marx Brothers performed at a theater in Benton Harbor, Michigan. I wonder if it could have been the Liberty Theater.
1/10/2006 - Barbara Pence
My grandfather, Elwyn M. Simons was the manager of this theatre as well as the Caldwell. His wife was Mildred Simons. His son, my father Elwyn C. Simons did the art work for the newspaper ads.
9/11/2004 - Joseph Barron
The roof collapsed before the city got around to restoring the Liberty. It has since been razed.
2/9/2004 - Erin Dorbin
This theater was gone by 2001 when I went with my camera searching for it. I spoke with a business owner in the area and she showed me pieces that they had salvaged from the demolition as well as the lot where it once stood.
Liberty Theatre - Parade Pic From Veronica
Parade Pic From Veronica
Liberty Theatre - Old Shot
Old Shot
Liberty Theatre - Updated Marquee
Updated Marquee
Liberty Theatre - Old Pic From Kara Tilotson
Old Pic From Kara Tilotson
Liberty Theatre - Mar 13 1948 Ad
Mar 13 1948 Ad
Liberty Theatre - Old Guest Ticket
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