Rialto Theatre

31 N. Main Street,
Three Rivers, MI 49093

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Rialto Theatre, Three Rivers, MI

Operating prior to 1916 as the Rex Theatre. The Rialto Theatre was a Butterfield theatre in the early-1940’s and into the late-1950’s.

Contributed by MikeRogers

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

In the current Google Street View for the address 31 N. Main Street there’s a fairly old-looking building with a Sherwin-Williams paint store in it. The Rialto might not have been demolished, merely dismantled.

This page at the Riviera Theatre’s web site says that the Rialto was already in operation under the name Rex Theatre in 1925, when the Riviera was built. The Rex Theatre was mentioned in at least three 1916 issues of The Moving Picture World.

Theaters at Three Rivers called the Bijou and the Vaudette were mentioned in a 1913 publication reporting changes or repairs ordered for buildings open to the public in Michigan in 1912. Another government report mentioned a Lenhart Opera House at Three Rivers.

A December 11, 1917, item in the Michigan Film Review said that the Rex and Vaudette theaters at Three Rivers had been taken over by the Chicago chain Fitzpatrick & McElroy. The item said that the Vaudette would be closed, but I found it mentioned in items from 1918 and 1921, so it apparently continued operating at least into the early 1920s.

I’ve been unable to discover what became of the Bijou. It might have become the Rex. The Lenhart Opera House, also known as the Armory Opera House and the Three Rivers Opera House, appears to have been converted into a church by the early 1920s.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

thanks Joe.I knew one of our members would flesh this one out.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 23, 2011 at 1:35 am

I don’t know why this page is not fetching a Google map or street view, but you can go to the Riviera Theatre page, turn the street view left, and proceed a few doors down the block to the Rialto’s location on the opposite side of the street.

The upper part of the building has brickwork characteristic of the period from about 1910 to the mid-1920s. Satellite view shows that the building has a gabled roof, probably carried by trusses, so it must have been designed to have a wide clear span. That makes it more likely that it was built specifically as a theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 6, 2011 at 1:04 am

Sometimes the photo is there, and sometimes it isn’t, Chuck. Google Maps is still a work in progress, I guess. But at least they’ve got the Street View matched with the right address in this case.

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