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Kerasotes quickly became notorious in Ann Arbor because the first thing they did was to sack all of Butterfield’s union projectionists and replace them with lower-paid employees. While there was a certain business logic in this (I don’t think the other chains in town used union projectionists, and the projectors were more automated than before) it caused a huge backlash. Picketers were a regular site at the State theater more than a year later. I’ve wondered if this happened at other locations…I mean, Ann Arbor is a liberal town in Michigan, but Michigan is a union state…
A little bit of trivia, from someone who spent his high school years working at Butterfield candy stands:
The Campus was the only one of Butterfield’s four A2 theaters that didn’t pop its own corn, but instead they brought in this horrific tasting pre-popped stuff. The manager of the campus (at least in 1979) was a 50+ year Butterfield employee…I think her name was Lois…who worked the box office at the Michigan the night it opened in 1928.
I worked at the State during the split into four theaters, and did get some pictures of it before the work began. I will have to see if I still have those around…if I can find them I’ll post them here. I remember it was a TERRIBLE job, the same philosophy that had hacked up the Michigan in the 1950s…the art deco red glass exterior was smashed off and replaced with ugly green bathroom tile. There were two half-circle couches in the upstairs lobby that were still in decent shape, but they were pulled out and replaced with generic patio furniture. And a really nice art deco mural running along the ceiling edge was painted black. sigh.
Maybe I’m the only person who remembers this, but back in 1978 when Butterfield moved out of the Michigan there was serious talk of Jacobson’s moving in, gutting the interior and making it a new store (with movie theaters in the balcony). Though I’ve been seriously disappointed by many (most) of the changes I’ve seen in my hometown, the restoration of the Michigan is a big plus.
This theater was part of the Butterfield chain, which ran numerous Michigan movie houses including the Michigan, State, Wayside and Campus in Ann Arbor…I don’t think they owned it, at least the operation was not directly supervised by Butterfield the way the other theaters were, but they did share ad space.
Around 1981 Butterfield sold out to a chain called Kerasotes, which may have been a factor in the University’s closure. Kerasotes didn’t last long either, and is mostly remembered for protests after they fired their union projectionists.
The timeline here says the Scio turned into an adult theater in 1974, which I think is incorrect…I went there several times when it was still a regular drive-in, and I didn’t start driving till 1978. I remember the conversion to an adult theater, and the controversy over the visibility of the screen (which happened pretty much immediately), but to the best of my recollection that didn’t occur before 1980.