9222 Grand River Avenue,
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The Riviera Theatre, or Grand Riviera Theatre, as it was first called when it was opened on August 24, 1925, was designed by John Eberson. It was built in an Atmospheric/Italian Renaissance style, and resembled a palazzo, complete with a spectacular auditorium decorated to look like an outdoor courtyard. It was equipped with a Robert Morton theatre pipe organ.
Its soaring grand lobby was equally stunning, complete with a grand marble staircase and not one but three great arched windows over front doors. A four-story vertical marquee spelled out the theatre’s name boldly over Grand River Avenue.
The Grand Riviera Theatre opened with Coleen Moore in “The Desert Flower”. Within a couple years, it was wired for sound. In the early-1930’s, the ‘Grand’ was removed from its name-though it was no reflection on the beautiful theatre itself-and was from then on known as the Riviera Theatre.
In 1957, stage shows replaced movies at the Riviera Theatre, but returned in 1962. Seven years later, the Riviera Theatre closed. From 1969 until 1974, the Riviera Theatre was used for rock concerts, but from then on, was closed, awaiting its next incarnation, which never came. It quickly began to fall into disrepair, and by the 1990’s, was a sad sight.
Unfortunately, one of Detroit’s most unique movie palaces was demolished in 1999. Since August 2001, the site has been occupied by the Detroit Grand River Social Security Office.
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