120 W. Adams Avenue,
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Opened as the Oriental Theater, this movie palace was the only Atmospheric style theater ever built in downtown Detroit, opening on September 26, 1927. It had a Middle Eastern theme to its decor, and originally seated 2,950. It was designed by Percival R. Pereira, his only theater built in the downtown area.
The opening day movie was called "Blood Ship" and despite its title, was an adventure and not a horror movie! The theater had a house orchestra in its early years, led by Frank Musial.
In 1930, the Oriental Theater was acquired by RKO and was renamed the RKO Downtown Theater. Three years later a scandal erupted at the Downtown when the management refused to allow an African-American couple to sit on the main floor in the "whites-only" area, instead of in the balcony. The theater was ordered to pay the couple $300 in damages.
The Downtown Theater was closed in 1950, having last been operated by the Chicago-based H & E Balaban chain. Three years later, the theater was demolished (except for the former lobby area) to make way for a parking lot. Its crystal chandeliers were removed and now hang in the lobby of Detroit’s Redford Theater.
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