Michigan Theatre

217 S. Washington Street,
Lansing, MI 48933

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Michigan Theatre, Lansing, august 1977

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Designed by John Eberson in 1920, the Strand Theatre, with its highly ornate terra cotta facade, was originally a vaudeville house, but later started to screen movies as well, eventually switching to just movies.

Like many of Eberson’s theaters, its auditorium was decorated with Neo-Classical touches.

The theater was renamed the Michigan Theatre during the 1940’s. Operated by the Butterfirld Theatres chain, it closed as a movie house in the 1970’s. The theater then sat vacant and decrepit until 1984, when the front section was brilliantly transformed into a mixed-use office and retail complex, the Atrium Center, by the firm of Hobbs and Black & Associates.

Although the auditorium could not be saved (only the floor of the balcony seating area remains), its grand lobby, ballroom and storefront areas were transformed to their 1920’s grandeur. The focal point of the office foyer space is now the large marble staircase.

The facade was also repaired after damage inflicted on it during a “modernization” years before. Limestone of the same shade as the original terra cotta was used to replace sections of the original terra cotta that were lost.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

Patsy
Patsy on March 6, 2005 at 2:27 pm

“Although the auditorium could not be saved, its grand lobby, ballroom and storefront areas were transformed to their 20s grandeur. The focal point of the office foyer space is now the large marble staircase.” Is this part of present day office and retail complex, the Atrium Center?

sdoerr
sdoerr on March 6, 2005 at 6:35 pm

yes I believe so

Patsy
Patsy on September 22, 2005 at 8:31 am

I decided to revisit this link and now recall the sad photo of the balcony with parking lot below! So very sad for the citizens of Lansing! I used to have a college roommate from Lansing so perhaps I should contact her to ‘pick her brain’!

Patsy
Patsy on June 7, 2006 at 7:18 pm

This theatre WAS a beautiful theatre and Lansing lost a gem when they chose to discontine this EBERSON creation!

TimP
TimP on September 4, 2006 at 11:59 pm

I’m looking for the date of a Louie Armstrong and The All Stars concert at the Michigan. Believe this would have been in 1950 or 51. Any resources for this type of info? There is an outside chance it might have been at the Gladmer but I doubt it. I was 8 or 9 at the time.

Patsy
Patsy on July 20, 2007 at 2:13 pm

These photos of the original balcony now a roof that still shows the decor design are truly amazing to view, yet very sad!

thomgpd
thomgpd on December 15, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I did my Architectural Thesis on the Restoration of the Michigan Theatre in 1977-9. I also worked for a Not For Profit to raise the monies and had my office in the building. Lansing wasn’t up to the task to restore it. I remember we brought in Dave Brubeck in to perform to raise money, still no good. It had so much potential,and was in sound condition….now the auditorium is a parking lot….I still have 2 of the seats, carpet, etc…..sad.

Thom Greene, Architect-Chicago

Brotherwoo
Brotherwoo on August 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

a little more history, and a few more photos: http://themichmashcenter.blogspot.com/2011/08/strand-theater.html.

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