Family Theater

Michigan Avenue and Mechanic Street,
Jackson, MI 49201

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Family Theater, Jackson, Michigan

Here are the recollections of young boy, who grew up in Jackson, MI:

The Family Theater was located in downtown Jackson, on or near the corner of Michigan and Mechanic Streets; architect, construction, opening date, and layout details unknown. Closed early ‘60’s.

In its last days it was viewed as forbidding place—a run-down, unsavory, old theater that showed lower-quality movies than its competitors the Michigan and Capitol Theaters, which showed Disney and “reputable” fare. During its last years there were stories of bats flying freely during shows.

Contributed by Ward MacCready

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

JaxonFilmFest on October 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

According to one source I have found, the Family Theatre @ 113 N Otsego (1920-? 1960) had 500 seats. This Afro-American theatre was owned by Co-operative Theaters of Michigan in 1935-1940.

JaxonFilmFest on December 9, 2012 at 1:53 am

Further information on the Family Theater:

JaxonFilmFest on December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

According to an article which appeared in the Citizen Patriot, April 21, 1913: The “Family Theater” will be the name Jackson’s newest amusement house which will open its doors May 4. Frank L. O'Melay, the owner, has decided upon above the name. Carpenters and finishers are now busy on the building, which, when completed when completed will have a seating capacity of 800 persons. Vaudeville and motion pictures will be presented. The lobby, when completed, will be exceptionally completed. The theater will be equipped with washrooms and toilets. Mush attention has been given to the interior lighting of the playhouse and plans are being made for the entrance on East Main Street. The playhouse has been so constructed that it will be cool during the hot days of summer. An excellent orchestra has been engaged to furnish music.

JaxonFilmFest on December 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Here’s is possibly the last words on the Family Theater, this from the Citizen Pat, 3/18/65
Family Theater Fire Blamed on Intruders A gust-fanned fire which swept the upper portion of the empty Family Theater at 113n. Otsego Wednesday afternoon is believed to have been accidentally started by intruders who used the building to sleep in.

Jackson Fire Chief Leo M. Fox said the firs could have been started by a discarded cigarette or by coals used to ekeep the dwellers warm.

He said that charred papers found on the floor hould have veen used for a bed.

The fire apparently started near the projection room door and ran up the partition.

Most heavily damaged were offices around the projection booth and the small balcony:

The theater, a former livery stable, had been vacant for about two years and is scheduled to be razed under the city’s urban renewal program, along with other buildings to which it is connected.

The city bough it in June.

The fire, which at one time was sending sheets of flame and heavy, thick gray smoke through windows directly above the marquee, was brought under control about an hour after the firemen arrived.

Eight fire department vehicles were sent to the scene.

After blasting the face of the fire with high pressure water bursts, the black helmeted, gas masked firemen began making their way int o the theater and to buildings attached to each side of it, all of which front on N. Otsego or E Michigan Avenues.

Other buildings which absorbed quantities of smoke and are due to be deolished along with the theater are the U.S. Trading Store, the Ira Scott upholstery store, and the Royal Banner Cigar Store, once owned by Lyle Burden.

Some patrons in Eddie’s Bar, next to the Royal Banner building, took to the sidewalks soon after the fire was discovered aand then slowly drited back after danger of the fire spreading had lessened.

The fire was discvoered about 3 p. m. by Carl Rosiling, a Citizen Patriot employe who alerted Mrs. Robert W. Welman, 3600 Seymour Rd., operator of the Gold Bell Gift Redemption Center, 144 E. Michigan. She called the fire department.

The 800 seat Family Theater was purchased for $24,500 on June 5, 1964, by he city from Daniel C. Haefner and the National Bank of Jackson. Mr. Haefner previously had leased the building to Harry C. Small, 2001 Blen.

Mr. Small said he operated the theater for 20 years beginning in 1943. He said it was formerly a Butterfield theater.

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