Follies Theatre

1 Cadillac Square,
Detroit, MI 48226

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Family Theatre exterior

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Built within the former Kirkwood Hotel on Cadillac Square, the Family Theatre opened on May 3, 1909. It began to screen films five years later, starting with the comedy "Tillie’s Punctured Romance". The Family Theatre, designed by Fuller Claflin, could seat 943.

After decades as a popular first-run house, like so many other theaters, the Family Theatre switched over to pornographic features in the 1960’s, and created quite a stir, not so much for its films, but because it didn’t change it’s wholesome-sounding name. However, it did soon change its name, to the Follies Theatre.

In 1973, during a screening of "Deep Throat", the Follies Theatre caught on fire. However, as they fled the burning theater, some customers actually stopped at the box office to ask for their money back!

The shell of the theater was demolished a couple months later.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

sdoerr
sdoerr on April 13, 2004 at 11:07 pm

Pictures of Fire and Aftermath including the Deep Throat on the marquee: 1, 2, 3

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 20, 2008 at 1:48 am

Here is a larger version of the LOC photo:
http://tinyurl.com/5vzgsu

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The building that was converted into the Family Theatre was built in 1872-73 as an office and commercial building. Despite conversion of the upper floors into a hotel in 1880, then back into offices, then back into a hotel again in the 1890s, and finally the gutting of much of the interior for conversion into the Family Theatre in 1909, the facade remained essentially the same for decades. The original architect of the building was Mortimer L. Smith. The building’s history is told on this web page, where it is listed as the Second Williams Block.

Matthew Prigge
Matthew Prigge on November 12, 2012 at 2:15 am

If anyone has any stories about going to/ working at this threatre in its adult days, I would love to hear them. I am chronicling the histories of adult theatres in the US. Please contact me at Thanks!

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