44 Adams Avenue West,
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Opened in 1917 inside the Fine Arts Building, the Adams Theater was designed, like so many other Detroit theaters, by C. Howard Crane for the Kunsky circuit. It was a vaudeville house for a short time, but by 1918, was screening silent films.
Kunsky had Vitaphone installed in 1927 and the Adams Theater’s silent days were over. By the 1930’s, it was run by the Chicago-based H & E Balaban chain, and received a remodeling in May 1935.
The Adams Theater was one of the earliest Detroit houses equipped for CinemaScope — installed for the 1953 feature “The Knights of the Round Table”. Five years later, MGM Camera65 was installed.
H & E Balaban sold the Adams Theater to Community Theatres in 1963, and it received a modernization at that time to the plans of architect Ted Rogvoy. In the late-1960’s and early-1970’s, the Adams Theater started to screen exploitation and adult films.
In 1988, hoping to bring new life to the aging theater, it was triplexed. However, outside forces would doom that strategy. In that same year, tragedy struck twice at the Adams Theater. First, a man was murdered in one of the auditoriums, and later that year, two teenagers were wounded during a shootout before a movie in front of the theater.
The Adams Theater was shuttered in November of 1988, with “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers” and “Messenger of Death” being the last films on its marquee.
In 1999, the dangerously decrepit marquee was removed, leaving the vacant Fine Arts Building looking like any number of aging early 20th Century office buildings on Grand Circus Park, Detroit’s one-time entertainment district.
The Adams Theater was demolished in June 2009.
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