Ishpeming Theatre

Cleveland Avenue,
Ishpeming, MI 49849

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Contributed by Bryan Krefft

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm

This must be the Ishpeming Theatre that E. J. Butler was operating about a decade before he built the Butler Theatre. It was listed as a new house in the 1906 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide. The 1913 edition of the guide gave a breakdown of the seating arrangements: 403 seats in the orchestra, 176 in the balcony, 350 in the gallery, and 92 in the boxes. In 1916, an item in The Moving Picture World noted that Butler was showing Triangle comedies at the Ishpeming Theatre and Triangle dramas at the Butler Theatre.

The Ishpeming Theatre was remodeled in 1929 at the time sound equipment was installed. Both the Butler and Ishpeming Theatres are mentioned by various publications into the 1930s. Ed Butler died in 1937, and the Butler Theatre was taken over by Fox Midwest, and the Ishpeming Theatre was probably taken over by Fox as well, but I’ve been unable to find any specific references to it.

I can’t find the house mentioned in the trade publications after the 1930s, but the Ishpeming Theatre was apparently in operation at least as late as 1965, as E-Yearbooks has a copy of the local high school yearbook from 1965, and it contains a courtesy ad offering congratulations from the Butler and Ishpeming Theatres.

Historian Robert Archibald, a native of Ishpeming, in his 1999 book A Place to Remember: Using History to Build Community, made reference to Ishpeming’s two downtown theaters, saying that one had closed and the other had been demolished for a parking lot. As the Butler Theatre is still standing, the Ishpeming Theatre has to be the one that had been demolished by 1999.

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