Atlas Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 15832 Plymouth Rd
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48227
County: Wayne
Open: 1939
Capacity: 950
Owner History: Stanley Oleszkowicz
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 17389
General Information:

Source: Steve Bielawski

The Atlas Theatre in Detroit was owned and run by the Oleszkowicz family from 1938 or 1939 until 1968. In 1968, the last two members of the family retired from the theatre. Between 1968 and 1978, the Atlas Theatre was run by Las Vegas Entertainment, Inc., which showed adult fare there. Technically, it was owned by the Oleszkowicz family, and Las Vegas Entertainment bought the building on a ten-year contract.

The first day that Las Vegas Entertainment ran the Atlas, the box office was robbed. A lawsuit over the movies being shown was filed against the Oleszkowicz family, but as the contract specified that the seller has no right to determine what would be shown at the theatre, the lawsuit went nowhere fast. In 1978, after finally buying the theatre, Las Vegas Entertainment sold the building and it became a church. There appears to have been a fire there, as the building was severely damaged. The remains of the building were demolished, and the building which now stands on the site (and which you show) is much newer than the Atlas.

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Info Updates:
5/1/2017 - Stephen Oleszkowicz
I believe that it was some of my family who owned this theater. My great-grandfather is Stanley, my grandfather was Stephen Stanley, my dad was Dennis Stephen and I am Stephen Gordon Oleszkowicz. All of us were born in Detroit. An uncle once mentioned to me that the family used to own a theater in Detroit, but nothing more was mentioned to me about it. This leads me to believe a great (or great-great)-uncle my have inherited it. I will have to dig into this with my family some more.
7/31/2013 - Steve Bielawski
In the early morning hours of July 30, 2013, a minivan crashed into the building now standing where the Atlas Theatre was, and the building caught fire. The driver got out before the Fire Department arrived to put out the blaze.
4/15/2013 - Dave
I lived around the corner on Rutherford across from the Atlas theater parking lot. The theater workers burned their trash along the back wall of the building. When the ashes had cooled I would sift through it to get the pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters. It kept us in candy monies for a couple days. I did go to the Saturday Matinees but remember the parking lot most, I spent more time playing baseball in the parking lot than going to the movies.
4/4/2012 - Doug Gdaniec
Hey Bob! I too went to Our Lady Gate of Heaven and also remember those class hikes from the school to the Atlas Theater to watch all those religiously oriented movies. One of those class trips was to see The Ten Commandments. We lived on the corner of Montrose & Ellis and I have many fond memories of afternoon picnics with Mom at Stopple Park. I also remember watching from our attic window, as a workman, equipped with a blow-torch, cut down the WXYZ broadcast towers in the field that was just across the street from us. That must have been some time between 1958-60. Wonderful times, wonderful memories.
2/18/2011 - Larry Whalen
This is too cool! I stumbled on this. I was looking for my childhood home on Longacre and found this. I read the other posts and had very much the same experiences. I was there most Saturdays from about 1955 to 1960. I remember going mostly to see the horror movies, Vincent Price and the Tingler, The Eye and The Mole People. it is all coming back to me now. I remember waiting in line to get in with 3 or 4 friends usually and clowning around like kids do. What a great time to be a kid. Too bad you can't go back. or at least create an environment there today that was as much fun as it was for us.
8/30/2010 - Earl Reeves
I went to Atlas theater for many years . For a long time, the admission price was 12 cents for children and 40 cents for adults. They changed their movies a lot and always had a GREAT choice for all ages. I went so often that the owner used to wave me through without paying about half the time. The lines during the matinees were usually as long, just as pictured. The folks that owned and ran the place were business like but always NICE to me. Thanks - Earl
8/2/2009 - Steve Bielawski
In going through some of our slides, a cousin of mine found one more picture which might be of interest to you. It is of the candy counter at the Atlas Theater. The candy counter was actually rented out. Someone rented the candy counters at several theatres and managed to get enough business between them to justify buying in larger quantities. That brought fresher things to the candy stand. It also meant that we didn't have to hire someone to work the candy stand. You've got to love that sign which advertizes, "Jumbo sized orange drink" for 30 cents (if I'm reading it correctly). Do remember, though, that there were no cupholders, and people were not supposed to take beverages to the seats. Times really do change.
11/8/2007 - Bob Ross
I remember the Atlas as being the best neighborhood movie house in Detroit's west side. Fifteen cent admission for Saturday matinees with one hour of cartoons. The manager opened the curtain by stepping on a switch on the floor stage left. The Atlas opened at 1:00 pm show started at 1:45pm, five minutes before the show the auditorium became ablaze with orange sunburst lights on the side walls and ceiling and the curtain took on a reddish pink haze with 2 red and 1 blue spotlight(s) on each side of the screen. The kids applauded and yelled when the lights came on and again when the Warner Bros logo spread across the curtain as it opened exposing the screen. Candies were 5 & 10 cents popcorn 25 cents. They never raised the price in the years 1956 to 1960 that I went there. Oh yes besides the cartoons there was always one full length feature, comedy, western or horror movie. Always the curtain closed at the end of the cartoon "that's all folks" and immediately reopened for the feature presentation.
3/30/2006 - Doug Foley
I live in Hamilton Ontario but went to this theatre in the summer of 1974 with my fiancée and another friend. I had tagged along with them to meet my fiancée’s aunt and uncle who lived on Granville Avnue and so thatmy wife could buy her wedding dress at the downtown Hudson’s. The Atlas was was obviously long past its due date. It was showing Deep Throat, which had no chance of ever playing Canada in 1974 and was still riding a media high. It was quite an experience and one we all still laugh about today.
11/23/2004 - Steve Bielawski
Here is a photo of the Atlas, from the Oleszkowicz family scrapbook. The scrapbook had this in with photos from 1940, but the two pictures listed on the marquee were released in 1938 ("Out West With The Hardys" was a part of the Andy Hardy series). I believe that the theatre opened in 1938. This could be the opening of the theatre, although that is just a guess on my part. There was a hardware store which was just beyond the picutre to the right. It was attached to the theatre. The theatre burnt down, and was demolished. The building there today likely has the same foundation, but it is either new construction or a very substantial remodelling.
1/10/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Atlas opened in 1939, built in Art Moderne style and designed by Robert J. West. It could seat around 950. It continued to screen first-run features into the early 70s before switching over to adult fare. During the 80s and into the early 90s the former Atlas was used as a church, but is currently vacant.
 Photos:5
Atlas Theatre - FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
Atlas Theatre - THE ATLAS THEN FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
THE ATLAS THEN FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
Atlas Theatre - 2013 PHOTO FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
2013 PHOTO FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
Atlas Theatre - CANDY COUNTER FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
CANDY COUNTER FROM STEVE BIELAWSKI
Atlas Theatre - 1942 ARTICLE FROM JAMES
1942 ARTICLE FROM JAMES
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