Michigan Theatre

Address: 124 N Mechanic St
City: Jackson
State: MI
County: Jackson
Open: 1930
Capacity: 1450
Owner History: Butterfield Theatres
Number of visits to this page: 7836
Notes: This theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Info Updates:
11/26/2009 - Diane W.
Back in the early 70s, I met one of the men who maintained the Michigan Theater. He related that it was difficult to make repairs on the equipment because the records and schematics of the various mechanical equipment (heating/cooling/electrical) did not exist. Apparently, one of the maintainers (engineers?) in the early years of the Michigan Theater thought by destroying the records and schematics, he would be guaranteed job security.
1/15/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Michigan opened in 1930, the last and largest of several movie palaces built in Jackson. Designed in the Spanish Baroque style, it featured ornate plasterwork, marble, imported antique artwork, and walnut paneling. The terra-cotta facade and its rooftop cupola resembled a church from 18th century Spain. The Michigan featured both stage shows and motion pictures, and was an entertainment mecca for Jacksonians for decades before ultimately closing its doors in 1978. Its original-and-only-owners kept the Michigan in excellent condition during their tenure, and its original appearance has changed little since it opened, amazingly, other than an Art Moderne new marquee added about 1940, and its interior being painted over in a uniformly dark color scheme in the 60s. Since restoration began in 1993, over a million dollars has been put into returning the Michigan to its original glory, including restoring the original colors to the auditorium and lobby, regilding, and adding a new marquee which is more in line with the Michigan's original 1930 marquee. Today, while still in the process of being fully restored (the cupola and terra-cotta facade still await restoration work), the Michigan screens classic and art films, including children's matinees, and its stage is host to concerts and local theater productions.
2/13/2003 - Michigans Historic Sites Online
Located in the center of Jacksons downtown commercial district, the Michigan Theater is a fine example of the lavishly decorated theaters built throughout the United States in the 1920s. The Michigan, constructed as both a vaudeville and motion picture house, is a red-brick structure. Its Mechanic Street facade is faced with yellow terra cotta tiles and displays twin, paired, Italian Romanesque-inspired window units and a low, Spanish Baroque tower with a red tile roof. The marquee is presumably a c. 1940 addition. The three-story entrance building--said to have existed before the theater was constructed and to have at one time housed a fish market -- contains, on the first floor, the outer lobby and a section of the inner (or main) lobby, including the concession counter. Rich, ornamental plasterwork pervades the theaters public spaces. The inner lobby and the auditorium-- especially the proscenium and the side walls and ceiling in front of the balcony-- possess a wealth of pilasters; twisted columns; elaborately decorated, arched recesses; and other details inspired by the Baroque churches of Spain. The Michigan Theater is the oldest and finest theater in Jackson and one of the most opulent (and best preserved) 1920s theaters in all of Michigan outside of the Detroit area. Constructed in 1928 to 1930 as part of Col. W.S. Butterfields statewide chain of vaudeville and movie houses, the theater was operated by the Butterfield chain until 1978. The building was designed by Maurice H. Finkel, a Detroit architect whose only other known theaters-- all four located in the Detroit area and constructed between 1921 and 1927-- have been demolished. The Michigan Theater is now the subject of a preservation campaign by the Michigan Theater Preservation Association.
Michigan Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Michigan Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Michigan Theatre - Photo from early 2000's
Photo from early 2000's
Michigan Theatre - OLD AUDITORIUM SHOT
Michigan Theatre - VENTAGE PIC
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