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Source: Cinema Treasures
Opened in 1928 as the Little Theatre, for a private womens group called the Century Club, with a peformance of Cyrano de Bergerac, the Gem had a full stage, orchestra pit, and balcony which sat about 200 patrons. The exterior resembled a Florentine Renaissance palace, while the interior contained minimal decor. Since its opening, the theater has had several name changes, first the Rivoli in 1932, then the Drury Lane and Europa in the next couple years, and finally in 1936, the Cinema, a name which stuck until the mid 1950s, when the theater was screening foreign films.
In 1959, as the Vanguard, the format was changed to stage shows, but by the mid 1960s, decline had firmly set in, and as the Gem Art, became showing adult films. The theater closed in 1978. Charles Forbes, who also owned the nearby State, purchased the Gem in 1991 and began an eighteen-month restoration, which brought the small house back to its original appearance. The Gem once again was home to live stage perfomances.
In 1997, the Gem made national news when the theater was lifted from its former foundation and moved about half a mile away from its original location to make way for the construction of the new Detroit Stadium. The move placed the Gem in the Guinness Boook of World Records, as the heaviest building ever moved on wheels, at about five million pounds. It arrived at its new home at Madison and Brush as a crowd of several hundred cheered. After a small restoration, the Gem reopened in late 1998.