Ishpeming Theatre

356 Cleveland Avenue,
Ishpeming, MI 49849

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The Ishpeming Theatre was opened in 1906. It was remodeled in 1929 when it was equipped for ‘talkies’. It was closed in 1965.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 20, 2012 at 5:47 am

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.

AzYooper
AzYooper on March 20, 2017 at 2:01 am

The Ishpeming Theatre was the largest theater in Ishpeming during my recollections of the late 40’s and 50’s. In my high school days, I ran the projector there. My best memories though were going to the Ishpeming Theater every Saturday for the matinee for 12c. There was always a great double feature of Tarzan, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers or great movies of the day. Always a couple of cartoons and then followed by a continuing serial feature. They also had occasional live shows and had a large stage to handle the productions. Loved the balcony. I left Ishpeming in about 1956 and the theater closed somewhere around that time and then eventually was demolished. I saw something on a Michigan history page that claimed the Ishpeming theater operated until 1985. I, personally, find that hard to believe.

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