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Still going strong as Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts as of 2022.
Source: Cinema Treasures
Opened in 1928 as a legitimate playhouse, the Wilson Theatre once sat over 2000. Designed by William Kapp in a stunning blend of Spanish Renaissance and Art Deco, the Wilson cost nearly $3 million to construct. Its facade was strictly Art Deco, complete with multicolored terra cotta. The interior was even more ornate, complete with marble columns, wrought-iron railings, brass fixtures, mahogany paneling, and masks representing comedy and drama by Italian sculptor Corrado Parducci. The Wilson was immediately acclaimed for its perfect acoustics and clear sight lines.
Though primarily a legitimate theater, the Wilson did have then-cutting edge projection equipment installed before it opened, and did screen a film 'These Thirty Years' on its opening night. In 1941, the Wilson was one of just fourteen theaters nation-wide to screen Disney's 'Fantasia' in Fantasound, an early use of stereo sound. In 1945, the Wilson closed, and was purchased by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It was renamed the Music Hall.
In 1949, the orchestra vacated the theater and it remained closed until 1953, when Mervyn Gaskin reopened it as a venue for Cinerama films. A 64 foot-tall screen was installed. The Music Hall was only the second Cinerama theater in the world, and supposedly the most successful as well, playing to packed houses for years. In 1964, 70mm equipment was installed for the premier of 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'.
In 1966, after closing a year for remodeling, the Music Hall reopened again, this time showing second-run films, until closing once more in 1970. In 1973, the Kresge Foundation purchased the Music Hall and renamed it the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts. It received a $5 million renovation to return the interior to its 1928 appearance. In 1977, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Music Hall has continued to receive renovations over the years, and is today one of Detroit's most magnificent venues to see concerts and other events.
Source: Michigans Historic Sites Online
Originally called the Wilson Theatre, this building was completed in 1928 with funds provided by Matilda Wilson (Mrs. Alfred G.). William E. Kapp of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, an architectural firm whose works dominated the citys skyline of the 1920s, designed this Art Deco-style edifice. Terra cotta Greek masks adorn the exterior, and elaborate molded plaster and stenciling complement the interior. The theaters purpose of offering legitimate productions was initially fulfilled, but during the Depression its lights dimmed except for sporadic occasions.
From 1946 to 1949, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra occupied the structure which was renamed Music Hall. Area residents came here in the 1950s and 1960s to see Cinerama and other films. Now the home of the Music Hall Center and the Michigan Opera Theatre, Music Hall is restored to its original use and appearance. The Wilson Theater (Music Hall) is a rectangular, six-story, Art Deco theater with walls of light colored stone. Orange and tan brick is used as ornament and the building is trimmed with colorful mosaic tile. The entrance facade is divided into several bays by wide stone pillars topped by theatrical terra cotta mask figures, and thin pillars separating window bays. The stunning interior, decorated in an elaborate Spanish Renaissance style, seats approximately 1800 guests.
The Music Hall is an outstanding example of careful restoration and one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Detroit. Mathilda Dodge Wilson commissioned William Kapp of the Detroit firm of Smith, Hinchman, & Grylls to design the theater, completed in 1928 at a cost of $1.5 million. The building was constructed as a legitimate theater and originally housed touring Broadway productions in the citys main theater district. In 1946 the name of the building was changed from the Wilson Theater to the Music Hall when the theater became the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The building was changed into a Cinerama in 1951 and has recently been beautifully restored.