Gem Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 333 Madison St
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48226
County: Wayne
Open: 1928
Capacity: 453
Owner History: Kunsky
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 7219

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: 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.

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Gem Theatre - Winter 2004 Shot Of Gem (newer photo)
Winter 2004 Shot Of Gem (newer photo)
Gem Theatre - As The Vanguard From Wayne State Library (newer photo)
As The Vanguard From Wayne State Library (newer photo)
Gem Theatre - Vintage Shot Of Gem (newer photo)
Vintage Shot Of Gem (newer photo)
Gem Theatre - Auditorium (newer photo)
Auditorium (newer photo)
Gem Theatre - From American Classic Images (newer photo)
From American Classic Images (newer photo)
Gem Theatre - Old Ad For Gem As Cinema Before Move To Madison Ave (newer photo)
Old Ad For Gem As Cinema Before Move To Madison Ave (newer photo) © 2024 Over 72,551,163 Served