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The building seems to have undergone a serious fire. The roof is gone and the upper story is largely gutted, from what you can see from street level.
It is sad, and Detroit has more than it’s share of problems, but the other side of the coin is that the economic doldrums that have hit my home town have also meant that a lot of elegant old buildings are here, unlike cities that have torn down and replaced their architectural history over and over.
These buildings are there, and are structurally sound for the most part. But they need some sort of economic catalyst to save them. Some sort of financially viable way to put them back to use. The Eastown is too far away from anything that’s near commercial redevelopment (or even on the radar for redevelopment) for it to have found a new existence, and the capital to refurbish and repurpose it.
I was just in Boyne City the other day (a really nice little city) and was glad to see this theatre still there (albeit altered internally). It appears that the balcony level and the upper portion of the building now have some sort of night/supper club and another club (or another level of the same club) occupies the theatre proper. I hope they retained (or at least covered over) whatever decoration existed prior, but it is a pleasure to see that they didn’t level the building like so many others have.
Thanks for the quick response. I’ll write you at the new email address.
Does anyone here have a connection to Compass Rose? I sent my check to them over a month ago for a copy of the “Uptown” DVD, but haven’t seen it yet. I also emailed the editor email on their website a week ago, but still haven’t heard back.
Maybe I’m just getting over anxious, but I’m looking forward to my copy and don’t seem to have any way of getting in touch with them.
Anyone out there have any suggestions? Thanks.
William, I’ve seen notice of LA Conservancy theatre tours on Cinema Treasures. I’m curious, but I’m also in Michigan. Are the tours worth the effort to try to get to Los Angeles? Do they have one annually that’s more “behind the scenes” and detailed than other times? I’d consider a trip to LA for a chance to see these.
Oops. Just looked again and saw the extremely clear part about the $4 million dollar renovation. Obviously this gem has been well cared for. Too bad more of these treasures aren’t as well served.
Thanks, William, I missed that post. The building looks a bit on the “seedy” side, but the posts say the interior is in beautiful condition. Is the exterior in good shape? Posts here seem to say that the interior is in good condition.
In the recent movie “Transformers”, there was a climactic street scene, including a theatre front. I believe that it is the Los Angeles Orpheum….can anyone confirm? The marquee definitely said Orpheum.
They also used the Michigan Central train depot here in my home town of Detroit. A sad state for a beautiful building.
Thanks SNWEB. Makes me even more sorry that I missed the tour. I hope the Oriental lobby will be on the 2008 tour.
The lobby was included on this year’s Preservation Wayne theatre tour, which I’m really sorry I missed. I’m hoping they’ll keep it on in the 2008 tour, because most of the theatres in the tour are those that are in great shape (Detroit Fox, Music Hall, Detroit Opera House and the Gem) and those in renovation (Palms-State). Great to see, but it also helps to be able to see those in disrepair or of which only remnants survive(too bad we can’t get into the Adams or the United Artists).
John Lauter’s post stated that John Muri recorded an album on the Six Mile RKO’s Wurlitzer. Is that recording available anywhere? And what about the Muri recording on the Detroit Fox?
Thanks. What a tragedy (one of so many) that this beautiful theatre is gone. It’s kind of a “kick” to see that the lobby is still there, though I understand it is not publically accessible.
The recent Preservation Wayne theatre tour featured the lobby of the Oriental Theatre (Detroit) for the first time. I don’t remember an Oriental Theatre (not surprising, given that the auditorium was supposedly torn down in the early 1950’s, and I’m not quite that old yet), but I looked for info on this site and it’s not listed here either.
Supposedly it was on or near Adams St., west of the Adams Theatre and the lobby was saved because it was part of an adjacent office building, but the auditorium et al were demolished for a parking lot in 1953(?).
Anyone have any info on this?
Thanks for the info. I’ll look into the Broadway in Chicago tour.
Does any group offer Chicago theatre tours, esp. for the Uptown, Oriental and Chicago? I’m from Detroit and would gladly make a trip to the Windy City for such a tour.
It may not be a theatre much longer. Good authority has it that the building is to be razed and high rise condos built on the site. The new building is supposedly going to have a theatre built into it, but it won’t have the charm of the old structure….and parking will be even more of a problem than in the past. Sigh!
Thanks Neo, I e'mailed them and they expect to have a tour this summer.
Are there any downtown theatre tours scheduled for this Summer? I believe that there have been in the past, but I don’t know who to contact regarding these. I’d esp. like to take some friends in to see the Michigan Theatre, and to see what’s the status of the United Artists and Adams interiors.
I still drive by this theatre on my way home. The current renovation has done a lot to stabilize the exterior, and it seems to be on the way to some new life/purpose.
But I also watched what they were doing with the interior. Basically, they gutted it to the walls and I’m not sure what (if any) vestige of this old movie house exist other than the shell of the building itself.
Still it’s nice to see the building have a new life.
I’ve been there twice in the last three years…for concerts, so my info may be a bit dated.
The main floor seats have been removed for concert dancing. The balcony still has standard seating.
Renovation work continues, mostly in the lobby. The auditorium decoration is largely intact, but “weathered”.
They hold concerts there, and show some films on weekend nights. It is owned by Chuck Forbes. He was the savior of the Detroit Fox and the Gem Theatres, though he sold the Fox to Mike Ilitch of Little Caesar’s Pizza/Detroit Tigers/Detroit Red Wings, who put the big money into finishing the Fox’s grand revival.
I believe that this theatre was razed in the late 1970’s and the site is now occupied by a McDonald’s.