217 S. Washington Street,
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Designed by architect John Eberson in 1920, the Strand Theatre was opened by Butterfield Theaters chain on April 21, 1921 with six acts of Keith Vaudeville headed by Herbert Clifton and a special presentation on the stage of the musical revue “My Soul Mate”. It was a vaudeville house for a while, but later started to screen movies as well, eventually switching to just movies.
It had a highly ornate terra cotta facade, and like many of John Eberson’s designed theatres, its auditorium was decorated with Neo-Classical touches.
The theatre was renamed Michigan Theatre on August 14, 1941. Still operated by the Butterfield Theatres chain, it closed as a movie house in the 1970’s. The theatre 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.
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