Great Lakes Theatre

Address: 14832 Grand River Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
County: Wayne
Open: 1927
Capacity: 1795
Owner History:
Number of visits to this page: 13618
Notes: AKA: Vest Pocket
Info Updates:
1/13/2020 - Nick Sortzi
The Great Lakes Theatre has been demolished. The site is currently a vacant lot.
9/26/2019 - Mark Schmeling
That Mike Filey photo has thrown me for a loop. I can't believe that is the Great Lakes on Grand River Ave. No. Impossible. It's some other Great Lakes Theatre. As a kid I worked my way up and down Grand River Ave between the Redford, the Norwest, and the Great Lakes. For a time, didn't the days of the week light up on both sides of the proscenium arch during coming attractions, signifying when the next movies would be playing??????? I too worked, for about a year, at the transformation from Great Lakes to Vest Pocket. I believe Max Morath: An Evening at the Turn of the Century was the initial stage offering, then Buddy Ebsen appeared in, The Apple of His Eye, and then - the reason the Neaderlander's slapped a fresh coat of paint on this old venue - the Detroit premiere of America's Tribal Love Rock Musical - Hair.
10/3/2017 - Eric Ziegler
Grew up on Coyle between Grand River and Lyndon in mid to late 50s. Burns School. Saturday matinee at the Great Lakes (a beautiful building) was 12 cents for two full length movies, six cartoons and a seriel episode. Adult admission was 70 cents. Movies changed after Saturday nite show with new ones on Sunday. Sunday afternoon was 20 cents for kids. But only one cartoon and no serial adventure. We brought our candy in from United Pharmacy on the corner of Terry, Gergans Market next door or Bills on Lauder. And yes, we snuck into the balcony, got caught and sent downstairs but never got booted. The older kids smoked in the boys bathroom and it always smelled not too god. Those were the days, huh.
6/9/2017 - edward murawski
went to the Great Lakes theater many times in the 50's Saturday afternoon shows were 12 cents great cartoons and weekly features buck rogers and many others , great science fiction movies too. when not there i went to he Norwest , it was about 15 cents to get in. great time to grow up in Detroit.
3/14/2016 - Joe Panackia
Well, I came to this page to see if anyone had listed the child admission rates from the late 50's. It seems to me that admission was. 20 cents then rose to. 25 cents around 1960. I was among the group of kids who attended the Saturday Matinee regularly. Yes, The Blob and all of the Vincent Price horror movies, West Side Story and everything in between. We also hung out at Bill's Confectionery on the corner of Lauder and Grand River.
12/26/2014 - Ginger OConnell
I use to live on Starthmoor bet. Eaton and Lyndon in the 60's and 1970. We moved in 1971. I use to go to the Great lakes Saturday Mat. w/ friends. Lots of fun. I think of the old neighborhood fondly. and Great Lakes comes to mind as good times. I went to Burns, Cadillac and Cooley.
6/6/2014 - Ricardo
I lived on mark twain between intervals and Lyndon and I'm sorry to say that the first time I saw the Great Lakes theatre it had been already closed this was in 1973 or so but I saw most of my movies at the norwest and I attended st. Mary's of Redford and mother of our savior. I love reading all of your memories of the old neighborhood.
2/24/2014 - Ray Roney
Unfortunately, the B/W pic that is listed for this theatre from the 1920's is actually from the Great Lakes Theatre in Buffalo, NY.
9/1/2013 - Jim Burke
I remember as a kid going to the Great Lakes on Saturdays for the matinee. They would show some Looney Tunes cartoons, Little rascal shorts, the the movie. I remember for $1 I could get in buy buttered popcorn, a cold pop, some candy and still have change to go to Bill's down the corner for some candy to take home and STILL have change!!! I Lived on Freeland and went to burns School. I was heartbroken when the changed it to the Vest Pocket, because I had to go to the Norwest to see Movies after that. I moved away in 1972 but will remember the Great Lakes forever!.
8/20/2013 - Kenneth Haines
I am 66 now and I grew up on Robson St. South of Schoolcraft. My dad took me to the Great Lakes when I was 5 to see a movie about a large spider. I was scared. My next door neighbor kid was an usher there.
8/19/2013 - Ralph
Before I turned 12 in 1953, It was 11 cents for the Saturday Matinee: It was 12 cents A mile or so to the west at the Norwest Theatre. Memories.
6/5/2013 - Carl Lundgren
Every Saturday matinee (25 cents) Popcorn 10 cents (Butter 25) that showed a Science Fiction or Horror movie double-feature I camped out there in the early 1960s. Down the street from Jack's Hobby Shop and a good walk from Greenfield and Schoolcraft. Where are my old friends from Cadillac School?.
11/12/2012 - Robert E Melkvik
In regards to Mary Jo White's posting,(2/13/2009),I have the same memory line. Cool! Oh yeah, the ticket was huge! I'm thinking like 12x12. Yep, the walk is also memorable. You remember the JC Penney Back To School Movie Party as much as myself. Thanks for getting me to remember it again!!.
7/26/2012 - Nancy Shoemaker
I lived on Terry down the street before Burns School from G. R. seen alot of movies at the Great Lakes, had some good times there back in the early 60's, buying my candy at Sam's before going, loved those days.
7/19/2011 - Suzanne Schneider (Bala) Ross
I ushered at the iconic musical Hair, in the early 1970s or late 1960s. I was a wide-eyed suburban Catholic housewife and mother of five at the time. OMG, as they say today. The play was full of life and strife and happiness, and I still remember Let the Sun Shine and Easy to be Hard, anthems I took back with me to East Detroit (now Eastpointe).
6/5/2011 - Barb
I lived on Strathmoor between Lyndon and Eaton in the 60's, went to Holy Cross Lutheran School. We used to walk to the Great Lakes and saw quite a few of the Elvis movies there. I also remember a Topo Gigio movie. Every time I smell movie popcorn today it takes me back.
1/23/2011 - Patrick Sullivan
I saw Hair there in 1971, then called the Vest Pocket Theater. Meatloaf played the character who sang the opening Aquarius.
8/24/2010 - David Murray
I was a child of the 60''s and grew up on Coyle between Eaton & Lnydon. I also remember the Peeny''s Movie Parade, down Grand River. I aslo enjoyed buying candy at Sam & Georges next to the theatre before seeing a movie. Those3 were the days.
4/18/2010 - Helen
I grew up in this neighbourhood on Mark Twain and went to Cooley High School. The Great Lakes Theatre was a big part of my growing up in the hood back in the late 50''s and 60''s. The Penny''s Movie Parties as described previously by Linda brought back such memories. I can remember it was so magical to enter the theatre with the velvet curtains, soda fountain, the mysterious stairway to the balcony, the double features and the Elvis movies. I was so shocked to see the ruins of it now that I almost cried. I wish there was a true picture of it as it was in our day, posted on your site,as it seems to live only in my memories.
5/21/2009 - Linda
I grew up on Strathmoor between Lyndon and Intervale and spent many weekends at the Great Lakes. The first movie I was allowed to see with some other neighborhood kids was the original Blob. Terrified me half to death. Actually, I wouldn''t allow my closet door to be closed for a loooong time. My very first job was at the J.C.Penneys some here mentioned. We moved in 1967 and at that time the area was still pretty good. At that time the theater was still in good shape and was a popular place to go. I''m amazed that it went downhill so quickly. Very, very sad.
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 boxboard, 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 crevouses 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.
3/28/2005 - Jim Johnson
I went to the Great Lakes Theater in the late 40s and 50s. Kids could watch two movies for 10 cents. In the 70s, I saw the musical "Hair" there. Generally, the Great Lakes had movies that started downtown, then to the Riviera, then the Norwest, before finally arriving there.
4/1/2004 - John M. Heyka
I just remembered. I remember Dick Osgood, who a long time ago did the movie reviews and listings on the news on Channel 7 listing this place.
4/1/2004 - John M. Heyka
I drove by this place on the way to my high school Senior Picnic in May of 1977. I never saw a bigger damn building in my entire life, up to this point.
1/13/2004 - 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.
12/18/2003 - Box Office Magazine
January 1959 - Eddie Murphy, longtime film salesman ans now manager of the Great Lakes Theatre, has been hospitalized with pneumonia.
Great Lakes Theatre - OLD PIC FROM MIKE FILEY
Great Lakes Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Great Lakes Theatre - OLDER PIC
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