Colonial Theatre

2615 Woodward Avenue,
Detroit, MI 48201

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Colonial Theatre, Detroit, MI in 1928

The Colonial Theatre, which was, like so many other Detroit theaters, a work of C. Howard Crane, was opened on October 8, 1917, and originally could seat 1,566 in its auditorium.

The Colonial Theatre had both vaudeville acts and motion pictures on its program in its early days, but soon switched to movies-only.

It was first owned, like the huge Hollywood Theatre, by the Cohen Brothers, and its original plans called for a nearly-3,000 seat palace, with over 200 box seats.

The Colonial Theatre was operated by Midwest Theaters from the 1950’s on, and operated into the mid-1970’s. Not long after it closed its doors, it was razed.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Broan on November 10, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Detroit Plans being prepared by G Howard architect 2328 Dime Bank Bldg for theater for Colonial Theater Co Estimated cost Bids will be received about May 1 The Bridgemen’s Magazine By International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Iron Workers

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 5, 2009 at 12:29 am

The Colonial got a new facade, designed by architect Ted Rogvoy, in 1948. The project was underway according to an item in Boxoffice Magazine of June 19 that year. The Colonial was the headquarters house for Midwest Theatres by then.

lesle on March 26, 2011 at 9:51 am

Photo that includes the front of the Colonial Theatre is here:

TLSLOEWS on March 26, 2011 at 10:27 am

Nice link and photo Lesle,but I do not see the theatre,could you point it out when you have time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 26, 2011 at 5:22 pm

tlsloews: The Colonial Theatre is to the right of the big Romanesque style post office building that dominates the photo, but since the photo is dated 1915, it can’t be the Colonial Theatre on Woodward Avenue, which wasn’t built until 1917. Also, Woodward Avenue has always been a much wider thoroughfare than the narrow back street that the Colonial in the photo faces.

It’s an odd little building. The top section is pure Greek Revival, but the lower two floors are Italianate, of a style that was some thirty or forty years out of date by 1917. It looks like it might have been a church that was altered and converted into a theater, with the lower two floors being an addition to a free-standing temple-style building.

I don’t know what theater it is. Cinema Treasures doesn’t list Colonial as an aka for any other Detroit theater, and of course it would have lost the name Colonial by the time this Woodward Avenue house opened in 1917. Either this theater is unlisted, or it’s listed under a later name and missing the aka.

I found a May, 1912, reference to a Colonial Theatre on the northwest corner of Lafayette Avenue (now Lafayette Blvd.) and Shelby Street, which must have been the theater in the photo. The Post Office was on W. Fort Street between Shelby and Washington, and Lafayette was the street behind it. The theater would have been in the 200 block of West Lafayette. I’ve clicked through the the first 100 of the 184 theaters listed for Detroit to see if one of them is in that block, but with no luck, and I think I’m getting carpel tunnel syndrome. Does anybody want to click through the remaining 84? If it isn’t there, it’s unlisted. Of course, it’s possible the house never even operated as a movie theater.

TLSLOEWS on March 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Thanks Joe,I though my eyes were going.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 28, 2011 at 2:03 am

Since the photo linked in an earlier comment shows a different Colonial Theatre, I’m pleased to have found a photo of the Woodward Avenue Colonial on this page of Motion Picture Times, August 4, 1928.

fred1 on October 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

In the film “ Searching for Sugerman” ,there is a passing shot of the Colonial theater

rivest266 on November 2, 2015 at 4:05 pm

October 8th, 1917 grand opening ad in photo section.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater