Duke Theatre

Address: 10060 8-Mile Rd
City: Royal Oak Township
State: MI
County: Oakland
Open: 1947
Capacity: 1500
Owner History: Wisper-Wetsman
Number of visits to this page: 16860
Info Updates:
12/1/2010 - L
What do you think of some one came in and developed a new theatre called Duke Theater I think this will help bring jobs, and bring the image up of the community and people would want to move into the township.
8/15/2010 - GERALD G GLOVER JR.
Alas! The Duke Theater is no more! My mother called me Saturday 8/14 to tell me that they where demolishing The Duke. I broke down and cried like a baby. To me it''s the end of an era. The last vestige of what used to be. As I wrote previously; my dad would take us to this theater in the fabulous 50''s to the kiddie matinee. The world has changed so much since that time. There was an innocence that we harbored; a sense that we were safe. World War II was over and people were starting to live again. Peace was prevalent and we were enjoying life in the great country of America. Television was wonderful with programs geared toward the family. As a matter of fact, Family seemed to be the great theme at that time. Families did so much together then. They ate together, watched T.V. together, went to church together, played together...etc. FAMILY! This was the key. there was a cohesiveness that kept us all together that is sorely lacking today. This may be the reason that I was so devastated by the demise of the Duke Theater. Not so much that the building is gone but that the era; the essence of the time is crumbling with the tearing down of the Duke. As I stated in my previous letter; The Duke Theater to me was a metaphor of what used to be. The

HOPE, LOVE, UNITY, KINDNESS after the War brought! I went down to the Duke yesterday to get keepsake. The crumbling of the building brought to mind that this is a representation of the crumbling of our society. The end of a great era that I don''t know will ever return. I got a flashlight and went inside the decaying building to try to suck out of it a spirit of my youth. A remembrance of what was. But, alas, all there was was musty carpet dark and dusty dinginess. A chocking of the time and world that was. I tried to remember standing at the candy counter; getting my goodies, turning toward the doors leading to the auditorium, seeing a standing poster of, possibly, I Was a Teenage Werewolf or The Vampire, or maybe one of Harryhausens'' movies like 20 Million Miles to Earth. Going to my seat with my brothers. And waiting for the fun to begin. But these memories are nothing but dust and darkness now! Being overcome with the demolishing of the theater. This is the last vestige of what used to be for me. All of my neighborhood theaters are gone now. The Mercury, Duke, Westown, Varsity and Westside Drive-in are all gone; and with it great memories and time of a grand and beautiful era!!!
3/25/2010 - Ed
I can''t imagine that the building will be renovated. Look where it''s located. Not the best of neighborhoods, that''s for sure.
3/13/2010 - Ed Seward
I have a couple photos of the Duke we took today. Wood facade is all gone, now it shows the remnants of the adapted Starlite Lanes marquee which was under the Squire signage. Would like to send/post the picture to update it as of 3-12-10.
Ed Seward
3/8/2010 - Lauren
I rode past the old Duke theatre on the bus today (March 8, 2010), and the old Squire sign was taken down and the Marquee displaying "Starlite Lanes" was exposed. It''s a bluish sign with white lettering
3/5/2010 - Ed K.
The last time I drove past the theater the front of it was stripped including the marquee. Did someone buy it or is it being torn down?
4/15/2008 - GERALD GLOVER
How well I remember the Duke Theater. My dad would ofter take us there in the fifties. What I wouldn''t do to go back to those great times; it was a whole different would then. We lived on Meyers in the projects off of 8 mile road which was only a stones trow from the Duke. We saw films such as: Ray Harryhausen''s TWENTY MILLION MILES FROM EARTH and THE EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUSERS. There was MOBY DICK: HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (with Anthony Quinn): TWELVE ANGY MEN: I WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN ect...I remember that after they had shown TWENTY MILLION MILES FROM EARTH; they brought it back a few weeks later and the line went around the block!!! When they showed INVASION OF THE SAUSER MEN; the placed was packed!!! What a great time this was to grow up in DETROIT; people were so nice and friendly and no one thought of hurting anyone. We used to leave our doors and windows open at night when it got too hot. The lot where the Duke stood, and still stand today, was really a mini-mall. Way before its time. There was an A&P; a jewelry store; a 5 and 10. Pauls Drugstore; Dukes menswear; and other assorted stores. My mom would take us to Northland when it first opened in 1955; Oh how beautiful it was!!! I think of the Duke Theater many times...a metephor of what used to be!!!!!
2/2/2004 - Metro Times
This oblong-shaped building stands as a giant in Royal Oak Township’s meager 0.7 square miles. The 17,200-square-foot property, located at 10060 W. Eight Mile near Wyoming, is located in the heart of the area covered by the township’s evolving Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Once the popular Duke Theater, it is now the largest abandoned property in the DDA. The building has also housed a bowling alley, roller-skating rink, and most recently, Squire Bartlett Supply Co. Property owner Robert Bartlett purchased the property in 1980, and eventually sold his business. The business went bankrupt around 1997, leaving the building vacant. “It was an integral part of our community,” says Royal Oak Township Supervisor Jerry Saddler. “That building, as an institution in our community, stands for itself.” A 1999 appraisal valued the property at $520,000. Between $17,000 and $20,000 in roof and other repairs would be necessary to renovate the building. Robert Wheaton, who concentrates on development for the township, says a new business would play an integral role in the small business district. The property is zoned community business, which allows for a large variety of potential developments. Wheaton says the DDA area, which is already lined with grocery and liquor stores and car dealerships, needs to see some creative uses for the property. “I couldn’t find anything short of industrial that the zoning ordinance would prohibit being placed on that site. It’s very wide-open [in terms of] what could be placed there,” he says. Nancy Bartlett, Robert Bartlett’s wife, says offers for the site have rolled in, including proposals for a figure skating academy, an alcohol-free teen club, a furniture store and an indoor youth basketball court. Another developer sought to level the building and construct an auto parts store. The problem is that most people looking to use the property want to lease, not buy, and the Bartletts want to sell. They’re asking $600,000 for the property. “I just want it to go away,” says Nancy Bartlett.
1/11/2004 - Cinema Treasures
This theater was named for jazz great Duke Ellington and was part of the Wisper and Wetsman circuit, seating about 1500. It was designed by Charles N. Agree in late Streamline Moderne style. Though construction was planned before America's entry into WWII in 1941, construction did not actually get underway until 1946, and the $300,000 theater opened in early 1947. By this time, however, the television era had begun, unfortunately for the Duke, which lasted less than six years before Wisper and Wetsman closed it due to steeply declining attendance. Later gutted and used for a warehouse, the Duke was demolished long ago.
1/10/2004 - Box Office Magazine
August 1958 - The Duke, operated by Wisper and Wetsman, has been closed.
Duke Theatre - 2010 SHOT
2010 SHOT
Duke Theatre - THE DUKE NOW
Duke Theatre - THE DUKE NOW
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