Tower Theatre - Detroit MI

Address: 12813 Grand River Ave
City: Detroit
State: MI
Zip: 48227
County: Wayne
Open: 1935
Capacity: 1440
Owner History: Wisper-Wetsman
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 11101

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance, features, addresses, phone numbers, or contact names 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

This mid-sized Art Deco-style neighborhood movie house could seat over 1440. It was designed by Arthur K. Hyde, his only Detroit-area commission, and opened in 1935. The Tower closed in 1964, and was demolished in the late 70s.

Info Updates:
3/16/2017 - Barbara "Farrell" Karamon
I remember dearly walking to the Tower Theatre, Saturday mornings, from my home on Violetlawn and Griggs. Part of the walk from home, we did on the RR tracks (and if my mother would have known, she would have killed us). I believe, during the late forties, kids could get in for twelve cents Because I came from a large family Mom never had enough extra money for popcorn. Bummer. We played sidewalk tag on the way up. And we loved to go past Borin Bros. Ice Co. , on Fullerton. For whatever reason, during the ice producing, a cool mist of water would come off the roof and it was great on a summer day to get 'misted'. In this day of high-tech and watching movies on our iPhones, could life ever have been so simple and beautiful. Miss a lot of the simplicity.
11/11/2011 - Mike Burdette
I used to live right next to the Tower on Steel Street. Alot of fond Saturday afternoon memories. The horror pictures were big on Saturdays. The Tingler was the scariest. I fell in the orchastra pit once. I was so small I couldn't climb out. I remember yelling for my Grandma. Nanny, Nanny, Help! In the same building there was a barber shop on the right where I would get a crew cut topped off with butch wax and a portrait studio on the left where my Sister Shelly and I had our portraits done. Great old neighborhood. Good place to grow up.
11/4/2011 - Tim
I worked at the Tower Theater when it was a recording studio. It was part of the Holland-Dozier-Holland record/music company. People like Freda Payne recorded hits there. The recording studio was on the stage enclosed. The echo chamber was in an eclosed area on the right of the main theater. The electronic lab and disc cutting lathe areas were up in the projection room and film storage vault. The main theater area was occasionally used for rehearsal for live shows by the groups. I was there the day the marquis was cut off the front of the building and landed onto the sidewalk. As I recall, the lot had a deep artesian well and that was tapped for cold water to cool the theater in the sumertime rather than mechanical air conditioning.
9/21/2011 - Barbara Dane
I wonder if anyone remembers that the Tower theater had dancing lessons on saturday mornings for the same price as the movie admission? Also, I recall a White Tower hamburger palace very near where you could get your lunch between the ballet and tap dancing classes and the movies. I would have been attending there in late 1930s. I could be wrong about the theater, but the location seems right to me. Any memories for me? Thanks, Barbara.
2/27/2011 - jack slater
I was an usher and changed the marquee for the tower theater in 1949 and 1950.
2/4/2011 - Bill
As a kid & back in the late '50's & early 60's, taking Fullerton East from Southfield, we drove pass the Tower Theater many times on our way to my grandparents home on Mendota St, just north of Meyers. I have not been back to the area since 1968 when they moved, along with many other kids in the neighborhood. I wondered what ever happened to the Theater, along with all of the other businesses on Grand River, like Federals & Sears? I am sure they are long gone. I believe Joe May Chevrolet had a car on the roof or on a pedestal (1960 or 61)? Does anyone remember the small candy store on the north side of Fullerton & Meyers??? Or a little further, the Clyde Boat Company on Livernois, South of Fullerton???
12/10/2010 - marva
In 1952, at the age of 16 I applied at the Tower Theater for a job as Candy Girl. I lived near Warren & Southfield and the Warren Theater needed a cashier. The manager asked if I would like the job as it would be close to home. Of course I took it. But I will always remember the Tower as my first job. Both of these Theater's are gone now as are many that we went to from 1952 until we got married in 1954. Oh, what wonderful memories we had of the old movie theaters.
10/29/2010 - Tim Pawl
I remember the Tower in 1962-1964 , we lived across the street from the Sizemore's on Birwood at Schoolcraft. John Sizemore's son Randy was a friend of mine and he would get us in on weekends to see the movies. I remember there being a tunnel under the theater so that the projectionist could go down from the projection booth and go all the way to the front of the theatre and adjust the screen and curtains. I believe there also was a small orchestra pit in front of the stage. At the time being 12 and 13 years old, this was big stuff. Randy's dad (John) had a brand new triple blue 1962 Pontiac Catalina Convertible and we would drive to the show, with the top down. great memories.
10/27/2010 - Garyrc
The Tower was most certainly open in 1965. I saw Circus World and Major Dundee there, which could not have been at this second-run house until at least 1965. I remember the projectionist kept mixing up the reels, so both films were shown out of order, yet somehow we were able to follow the plot.
10/27/2010 - Frank Post
The famous corner of Meyers Road and Grand River Avenue. why famous well at least to me is because there were two of my favorite places to go to. Joe May Chevrolet, when the new models came out, and the Tower Theatre just a block away where on Staurday myself along with my classmate & friend Mike, would go there pay 25¢ stuff our gullets full of candy, popcorn and soda pop and see cartoons and thriller/monster movies that would scare the begusus out of us. We both lived on Pinehurst past West Chicago and as we walked home we would turn around to see if any monsters were following us. All so naive and gullible back then. Such a shame that all so many Detroit's icons from our past are falling to demolition & destruction. may destroy the where, but never destroy the memories of when. To all those who may have attended McFarlane/MacKenzie, I hope life has been as a great awesome adventure as it has been fo me. poor and disabled I may be, but riches in memories beyond belief.
10/21/2008 - Chuck Greene
The Tower Theatre remained open through 1968; possibly into very early 1969.
I say this because, when my family moved to the Grand River & Meyers neighborhood - in March 1969, the Tower marquee read: "Hang 'em High" - Starring Clint Eastwood

In the years to follow, the Tower Theatre was home to the world-class song writing and production trio known as "Holland, Dozier, Holland"
5/29/2008 - Bob Ross
I spent many a Saturday afternoon at the Tower Theatre. I would walk down the railroad tracks from my house on Ilene to the "show". The Tower was the only theatre I know of with flourescent lights in the mirrored lobby the marble floor gleaming and the smells of the candy counter. The standing room (inner lobby) had sofas and orange and yellow shaded lamps and light fixtures where patrons could smoke. The auditorium looked like a Moroccan temple even the stage curtain carried the theme. There was an orchestra pit, I don't know if it was ever used. For 20 cents you got 2 features and cartoons every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. I remember 2 shops one on each side of the marquee a sewing machine store and a beauty parlour west of the theatre was auto row. I could see the Tower sign high above the theatre from the railroad track 2 doors from my house on Ilene. I would watch it light up just before the show opened at 6:30 p.m. during the week, weekends & holidays 1:30 p.m.
3/21/2006 - Geral E. Nott
My name is Geral E. Nott: The tower theatre was built in 1935 in the midst of the depression by a man named William Wetsman. It was built at a cost of 25 cents per square foot. It was then operated by W & W theatres or Wisper & Wetsman Theatres in the late 50’s. I believe my father Harry E. Nott (who was managing it for W & W ) & his partner John Sizemore bought the theatre From Mr Wetsman. They operated the theatre until about 1968. They then sold it to Silver Sound Studios. Silver Sound Studios was a group of people who left Motown to start their sound studio. I do not know what became of them. It subsequently became closed in the 70s and then torn down. I personally managed the theatre from Feb 1964 until about 1967. I also served as the projectionist operating the old Simplex arc lamps and film heads.
12/19/2003 - Box Office Magazine
April 1959 - L&L Concessions Co. is now servicing the Tower Theatre, operated by Harry Nott and John Sizemore, with the Louis Mitchell Theatre Service taking over the booking and buying for the former Wisper & Wetsman house.
12/18/2003 - Box Office Magazine
July 1959 - Harry Nott has taken over at the Tower as sole owner, following dissolution of his partnership with John Sizemore. The candy counter has been leased to L&L Concessions through negotiations with Bert Levy. Sherman Lambly Jr. remains as operator.
12/18/2003 - Box Office Magazine
April 1959 - Harry Nott, former manager of the Tower for W&W, is now co-owner with John Sizemore.
Tower Theatre - Old Photo
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