National Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 118 Monroe St
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48226
County: Wayne
Open: 1911
Capacity: 2250
Owner History:
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 9161
Disclaimer:

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance or features 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

The National was opened in 1911 as a vaudeville house, and designed by Albert Kahn in a beautiful Art Nouveau style with Egyptian elements. The polychrome terra cotta facade is its most spectacular feature, with a large arched window, resembling a triumphal arch, and two minarets on either side, once topped by gilded domes.

Floral and other nature-based terra cotta decor, including stylized scarab beetles, also graced the facade. The interior could originally seat over 2200, and featured a large stage and simple but graceful decor. Within a few years of its opening, it switched from vaudeville to movies, and by the 40s and 50s, had become a burlesque house. In the 60s, it received a new name, the Palace, and operated as an adult film venue. It was closed in 1975.

Since its closing, the National, like so many of Detroit's old movie houses, has fallen into serious disrepair, both inside and out. Its facade still looks majestic, though, despite its boarded-up entrance and decrepit marquee. In 1998, a preservation-minded group called Cityscape Detroit went into the National to clean it up. There was consideration at the time of possibly renovating the long-vacant theater.

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Info Updates:
2/28/2006 - John Kocsis
I was in this theatre in the 1960s when it was a live burlesque with orchestra. Frank Loessers last musical, "Pleasures and Palaces" (around 1965), closed after a run at the Fisher Theatre and never got to Broadway. The beautiful imperial Russian sets from "Pleasures" ended up on the stage of the National Burlesque...to great effect. A great little theatre, even at the end.
12/19/2003 - Box Office Magazine
September 1959 - Jim Bennett, manager of the National Theatre, can recount the history of the show business here in great detail. His first Detroit show job was at the Family Theatre in 1910.
12/18/2003 - Box Office Magazine
July 1959 - James Cunnigham, National operator, has moved to the Colonial, while Edward Waddell, formerly of the now-closed Warfield, and Robert Siemer of the Highland Park have joined the National booth staff.
 Photos:15
National Theatre - FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
FROM AMERICAN CLASSIC IMAGES
National Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
National Theatre - RECENT PHOTO
RECENT PHOTO
National Theatre - RECENT PHOTO
RECENT PHOTO
National Theatre - RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
National Theatre - RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
National Theatre - RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
National Theatre - RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
National Theatre - RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
RECENT INTERIOR SHOT
National Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
National Theatre - OLD PHOTO FROM DETROITYES
OLD PHOTO FROM DETROITYES
National Theatre - OLD PHOTO
OLD PHOTO
National Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
National Theatre - OLD AD
OLD AD
National Theatre - SUN JULY 23 1950 AD
SUN JULY 23 1950 AD
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