Michigan Theater

238 Bagley Street,
Detroit, MI 48226

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Showing 1 - 25 of 107 comments

CrustyB
CrustyB on April 23, 2014 at 11:20 pm

The Jim Jarmusch movie “Only Lovers Left Alive” was partially filmed here.

edlambert
edlambert on March 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

The film referenced was “Strategic Air Command,” filmed in VistaVision. I specifically went to the Michigan Theater to see it, thinking that projected VistaVision films were of a wider aspect ratio such as CinemaScope films. I was wrong about that, but the depth of field was unbeatable except by the Cinerama films.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Here’s the text of the report about Fred and his organ:

(CBS News) RACINE, Wis. — From the outside, the three-bedroom ranch in Racine, Wis., looks like any other house. On the inside, it looks like any other house.

But if you make your way down the stairs, you’ll find a cellar unlike any other cellar. And it’s down here where 87-year-old retired insurance salesman Fred Hermes works on his hobby in front of a live audience.

“It makes me happy to see the enjoyment they get out of this,” Fred says.

Yes, here in the basement, where most of us keep our water heaters and paint cans, Fred has a giant Wurlitzer and balcony seating.

Fred built this theater-in-the-ground in 1959. It wasn’t so much that he wanted a theater as he needed a place to keep his organ and the 3,000 pipes that came with it. He rescued the organ from the old Michigan Theater in Detroit.

“Biggest organ that Wurlitzer ever made with five keyboards,” Fred says of the organ. It was made in March 1926, which Fred notes was the “same month I was born.”

Fred says he feels a kindred spirit with the organ.

That explains the Wurlitzer, but what about the rest of his place?

“Then they started tearing down all these beautiful movie theaters around the country,” he says. “And that’s when I thought, ‘Why not pick up some of this junk and make it look like a movie palace?’”

Which leads to the question: Why would anybody want that?

“Because they’re crazy,” Fred replies.

A few years ago, word got out that Fred had this theater and the tour buses have been stopping by ever since — which is fine by Fred. In fact, he says he has a responsibility to share his place.

“Here’s the way I look at life: this is a gift that God gave me,” he says. “And I think I owe something. And that is why I have people coming around here.”

They say God works in mysterious ways. And if this is one of those ways, Lord knows what he’s trying to tell us. Maybe follow your dreams, or share your passion, or maybe we’re just supposed to appreciate the quirks of this great country.

Like Fred’s home theater, sweet home theater.

If you want more information or would like to visit Fred’s basement organ, go to RealRacine.com.

Bway
Bway on July 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Wow, that is REALLY cool!!!

cmastersin
cmastersin on July 20, 2013 at 1:32 am

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57594651/wis-mans-basement-holds-ultimate-home-theater/ The original 5 manual Wurlitzer from the Michigan can be seen here in a basement decorated like a movie palace; working and playing!

Matt Lambros
Matt Lambros on April 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

I recently photographed the former Michigan Theatre. Check out the post at After the Final Curtain

LouRugani
LouRugani on December 5, 2012 at 1:07 am

The MICHIGAN’s spectacular vertical sign was called the largest in Michigan, and was 120 feet tall by fourteen feet high and weighing seventeen tons.

By 1954, corrosion was found inside the 27-year-old sign which wasn’t noticeable outside. Sign contractor Edward A. Long of the Long Sign Company worked several eight-hour shifts from midnight until 8 am using a huge Moto-Crane to remove the sign, cutting it from the top down with torches. United Detroit Theatres said the sign wouldn’t be replaced.

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on October 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

The Michigan is prominently featured in the climatic fight scene in the recently released film “Alex Cross.” There are shots in the balcony area and above the ceiling. How authentic those are is questionable because damage is done to the ceiling at one point.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on May 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm

If that is the case, then they must have had to film it twice, using two different systems (as they did when they filmed Oklahoma in two different formats.)

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on May 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

According to the IMDB, Warner’s filmed “The Command” in both Cinemascope and 3-D, but only released the CinemaScope version.

JAlex
JAlex on May 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm

“The Command” was WB’s first release in CinemaScope…not in 3-D or VistaVision.

Brad Smith
Brad Smith on May 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Click here for an exterior view of the Michigan Theatre in 1930.

LondonBuff
LondonBuff on September 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Correction: The first VistaVision release was White Christmas and was likely shown at the Michigan. The Command was a Warner’s 3D release from a year earlier. I suspect that the Michigan, installed a wide screen in summer 1953 to show Paramount’s Shane, a different western.

JerryD
JerryD on April 12, 2011 at 6:10 am

The marble horses were located on the 2nd floor mezzanine, attached to a Roman Chariot. The mezzanine was only open to the public during heavy business. JerryD

GaryParks
GaryParks on March 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Yes, that is the Michigan auditorium in “The Island.” Also, according to the Theatre Historical Society Annual which was published about the Michigan several years back, those horses in the inner lobby area were an actual marble statue.

Patsy
Patsy on March 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm

And this theatre had a spectacular marquee! I wonder what happened to it…dare I ask?

Patsy
Patsy on March 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Where were the plaster horses located in the theatre?

Patsy
Patsy on March 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

The photo posted on April 23, 2010 is most amazing to see…looks like there is an organ near the stage. Such a shame to have lost this elegant Rapp & Rapp theatre to the stupidity of the owners then. Who were the owners then??

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on October 13, 2010 at 10:38 am

The Michigan was seen on the TV show “Detroit 1-8-7” last night. A cop meets with an informant in the structure and ceiling and wall details are clearly seen.

jimkerr
jimkerr on September 29, 2010 at 2:32 am

The michigan is also seen in the movie “The Island”. As Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johanson are being chased through the town they run briefly through a parking garage. Judging by the cieling I believe it’s the michigan.

Twistr54
Twistr54 on June 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

View link

I took a few new photos when I was in town, May 29, 2010.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on April 23, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Very sad to see this theatre as a parking lot.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 23, 2010 at 2:28 pm

The Michigan Theatre in better days:

View link

I have never seen this particular photo before. Nice one.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on April 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

here’s link to TV news video on Fred Hermes basement theater & the theater’s Wurlitzer organ (per Comments above)
View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on April 15, 2010 at 10:57 pm

The Theater’s original Wurlitzer organ, a five manual, twenty-eight rank masterpiece, still survives, installed in a basement replica of a movie palace in the home of man in Racine Wisconsin. There’s more information here: View link