Oriental Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 120 W Adams Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48226
County: Wayne
Open: 1927
Capacity: 2950
Owner History: RKO Theatres
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 15453
General Information:

Source: Cinema Treasures

Opened as the Oriental, this movie palace was the only atmospheric theater ever built in downtown Detroit, opening in late 1927. It had a Middle Eastern theme to its decor, and could seat about 2950. It was designed by Percival R. Pereira, his only theater built in the downtown area. The opening day movie was called "Blood Ship" and despite its title, was an adventure and not a horror movie! The theater had a house orchestra in its early years, led by Frank Musial.

In 1930, the Oriental was acquired by RKO and was renamed the RKO Downtown. Three years later a scandal erupted at the Downtown when the management refused to allow an African-American couple to sit on the main floor in the "whites-only" area, instead of in the balcony. The theater was ordered to pay the couple $300 in damages. The Downtown was closed in 1950 and, three years later, was demolished to make way for a parking lot. Its crystal chandeliers were removed and now hang in the lobby of the Redford.

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Info Updates:
1/13/2020 - Nick Sortzi
This theater was attached to the Hotel Briggs, which is now an apartment building called Briggs Houze, and the theater lobby was in the ground floor of the hotel. The lobby space recently reopened as an Asian restaurant called Pao. The parking lot the auditorium formerly occupied is now used by apartment residents.
1/5/2004 - John Lauter
Old transparencies reveal the ornate interior of the old Oriental.
 Photos:18
Oriental Theatre - AS THE DOWNTOWN FROM DIMITRI RéMON VAN RIEMSDIJK
AS THE DOWNTOWN FROM DIMITRI RéMON VAN RIEMSDIJK
Oriental Theatre - FROM SIGN CO
FROM SIGN CO
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
INTERIOR SHOT FROM JOHN LAUTER
Oriental Theatre - MARQUEE FROM CHARLES VAN BIBBER
MARQUEE FROM CHARLES VAN BIBBER
Oriental Theatre - OLD AD FROM JOHN LAUTER
OLD AD FROM JOHN LAUTER
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