Great Lakes Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 14832 Grand River Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48227
County: Wayne
Open: 1927
Capacity: 1795
Owner History:
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 16730

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 1927, the Great Lakes could seat over 1795, and was host to both live stage shows and movies in its first few years of operation, though it was operated as a movie house for the majority of its existence. It was designed by George Mason, who was responsible for the Gem and Oriole Theatres in Detroit as well.

After it closed as a movie house in the late 60s, it became home to the Vest Pocket theater company from 1969 to 1972. Afterwards, it was used for a number of years as a church. The theater then stood for a long time vacant, vandalized and falling apart, making quite an eye-catching ruin along Grand River Avenue, especially its rusty, semi-intact blade marquee. It spelled out the words "EAT LAKES". The Great Lakes was torn down in 1999.

Info Updates:
1/13/2020 - Nick Sortzi
The Great Lakes Theatre has been demolished. The site is currently a vacant lot.
2/13/2009 - Mary Jo White
When I was a child in the 1950s there were "Penney's Movie Parties" each summer. You had to go to the JC Penney's store near the Greenfield-Grand River intersection and reserve a ticket. I remember the tickets as huge pieces of box board, larger than 8.5X11. On the day of the party, which I think was always a weekday, you would go to Penney's, pick up your ticket, then walk on Grand River to the Great Lakes Theater with all the other kids in the neighborhood - a real parade. I can't remember what movies were shown. What stuck in my mind was walking to the theater in the summer sunshine with many other kids and no adults, especially since my parents didn't usually let me go to the movies with my friends at that age. (I was between 8 and 10.) I also remember that the tickets were free. What a deal.
5/29/2008 - Bob Ross
I attended many a Saturday Matinee at the Great Lakes Theatre. The balcony was never opened to us youngsters. I guess the temptation to "toss" something over the railing was too tempting thus keeping the ushers too busy. An usher stood stage left before the cartoons started at the ready to open the grand drape once the "Merrie Melodies" logo spread across the curtain opening onto the screen. Oh yes, the admission was $.25 for a regular matinee and $.50 for a road show movie. I recall seeing "Around the World in Eighty Days" summer of 1960. After playing for 6 months or so at the United Artists (reserved seats) downtown then it went to the Riviera then the Great Lakes. My favorite matinee movie at the GL was Vincent Price in "House on Haunted Hill" a perfect film for the cavernous dark theatre and the eerie shadows cast off the screen into the crevasses of the grand movie house.
12/26/2005 - Reid Johnson
This was my main movie house as a kid. The production of Hair included Meat Loaf and Stoney (she did a few albums with him around then), just before he did The Rocky Horror movie. I worked at the Great Lakes when it was the Vest Pocket Theatre.
Great Lakes Theatre - Recent Pic (newer photo)
Recent Pic (newer photo)
Great Lakes Theatre - From American Classic Images (newer photo)
From American Classic Images (newer photo)
Great Lakes Theatre - Older Pic (newer photo)
Older Pic (newer photo)
Great Lakes Theatre - 2019 Street View (newer photo)
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