3929 Woodward Avenue,
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The Garden Theatre, one of C. Howard Crane’s earliest neighborhood theatres in Detroit, opened in 1912, and could seat a little over 900. It was one of the largest theatres built outside downtown at the time.
Its auditorium featured, as the name implies, garden-style decoration, giving patrons the feeling of being outside amidst fake vines and birds.
It originally hosted both live stage shows and motion pictures, though later the live performances were dropped.
The Garden Theatre was closed in 1949, but in the 1950’s, was used as a nightclub. In the 1960’s, as the so-called Cass Corridor, along Woodward Avenue, where the theatre was located, declined, so did the Garden Theatre.
By then, it had reopened as an adults-only theater, called the Peek-A-Rama. It was later renamed the Sassy Cat. Its neighbors included a strip club and a pornographic book store.
The Sassy Cat is now closed, and the Cass Corridor is in the midst of a massive gentrification, with coffee houses, bookstores and luxury apartment buildings displacing the more sleazier businesses of the 1970’s, 1980’s and early-1990’s.
There is now a chance that the Sassy Cat, with its Beaux-Arts facade still relatively intact, could be included in the wave of renewal that has swept up the neighborhood. Restoration began in 2012, and the Garden Theatre reopened in October 2013 as a 1,200 capacity (including standing room) mixed use venue.
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