Harpos Concert Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 14238 Harper Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48213
County: Wayne
Open: 1939
Capacity: 1975
Owner History: Wisper-Wetsman
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 10344
General Information:

Source: Cinema Treasures

Opened in 1939, for the Wisper and Wetsman circuit, the Harper Theatre was designed by N. Agree in a stunning Art Deco style. The theater was complete with a towering 80-foot vertical marquee spelling out the theater's name (which could be seen for blocks up and down Harper Avenue) and lit up at night in multicolored neon lights.

The Harper cost about $290,000 to build, and was at the time one of the most modern-looking theaters to open in Detroit. It also featured murals in the lobby and auditorium by Thomas di Lorenzo. Opening week films included 'The Rains Came' and 'Chicken Wagon Family'. It was converted into a nightclub in the 70s, and currently is home to Harpos Concert Theatre, the premier venue for heavy-metal and industrial rock bands in Detroit.

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Info Updates:
7/27/2017 - Shelly Neal
This place is currently under new ownership. Much cleaner and better security is in the works.
4/26/2004 - John M. Heyka
John M. Heyka: I worked here as a bouncer in 84-85. I think the building might have been built in 1937, not 1939, due to a certificate of occupancy issued by the city dated April 1937 which was located in the boiler room in the basement. On of my jobs was to fire up the beast on cold days. Occasionally, I'd have to scrub the heat tubes inside the boiler, which had been converted to natural gas. But you could still see the coal chutes on the back wall of the building facing the alley. Above the set of steps leading to the second floor offices was a Gibson Byrdland guitar used and autographed by Ted Nugent. Needless to say, the guitar was attached to an alarm. The original projection room was still there, projectors included. I was told they still worked then, as they were used to show an adult film made by an actress who appeared there. The room next door included a shower which was still in use. The highlight though, was a private party room for celebrities and rock and roll vips, which had windows on one end that faced the stage below. From there you had a commanding view not only the stage, but the whole house! On the mezzanine level were the bathrooms(no doors on the stalls), the candy counter, pool and foosball tables and video games. Inside the room are several levels, each lower than the other. There's a main bar, one bar on each side of the dance floor and a jumbo video screen above each bar. The dance floor is of course lit. In the bottom or pit level, there used to be a bar and the stage had to be raised four feet or so when it was converted from a disco bar(its original use) to a rock and roll bar. It was either that or to keep people from jumping up on the stage. Some still managed, though. I remember Spencer Davis (of the eponymously named group) talking to Mitch Ryder on the phone about the formation of the Spencer Davis Group. Even watched him play pool at the end of the night with the owners. So many memories, so little time. If you like, I waxed a little more nostalgic on a related site called Motor City Rock. Ah, those were the days!!
2/24/2004 - Larry Crane
Greetings, the Harper Theatre still stands today, but the name of the venue has changed to Harpos Concert Theatre. This facility had showcased and headlined many of the major rock and roll acts of the 70s and 80s. The interior had been altered to accommodate several bars, a large dance floor, and festival seating. In the late 70s and early 80s, I worked as the promotion director for radio station, WABX-FM. The station sponsored numerous concerts including, the B-52s, James Brown, Grace Jones, Iron Maiden, Mountain, and Jack Bruce, to name a few. Local bands such as Adrenalin, Toby Redd, the Almighty Strut, the Look, graced the Harpos stage. Recently, Harpos has continued to feature cutting edge groups on the weekends.
 Photos:3
Harpos Concert Theatre - OLD PIC FROM RON GROSS
OLD PIC FROM RON GROSS
Harpos Concert Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Harpos Concert Theatre - OLD PICTURE
OLD PICTURE
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