117-119 N Main Street,
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The Whitney Theatre opened in a building which was constructed in 1871, and also contained the Milner (later Earle) Hotel. Its designer was Herman Pipp. The theater could seat over 1500 in its auditorium, which contained two balconies and 35 boxes.
The decor was neo-Renaissance, complete with imported French chandeliers and Italian marble floors, one of the most plush theaters in the state in the late 19th century, outside Detroit.
For much of its existence, the Whitney was a legitimate house, with actors such as Edwin Booth, John and Ethel Barrymore, Helen Hayes and Alfred Lunt appearing on its stage.
Although it showed its first movie in 1914, the Whitney didn’t switch to a movies-only program until the mid-30s, when it was run by L.C. Mull, who also operated Ann Arbor’s Majestic. In 1936, the Whitney was acquired by the Butterfield Theatres chain, which continued to run the theater until it closed in 1952.
Three years later, it was demolished, along with the adjacent Earle Hotel. Butterfield made plans to construct a new 1500-1800 seat theater on the site, but instead ultimately decided to build their theater, the Campus, elsewhere in Ann Arbor.
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