217 S. Washington Street,
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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.
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