Eagle Theatre

13-15 S. Saginaw Street,
Pontiac, MI 48342

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The Eagle Theatre is the epitone of the late vaudeville, early movie theater. It is a fine example of the use of Moorish design influences on a cinema building. The three-story facade is masonry which is finished primarily in stucco and red quarry tile. At each side of the facade are vertical stucco towers decorated at the top with a corbeled cornice and at the base with red quarry tile. At the second floor of these towers the windows are surrounded by a Moorish or horseshoe art treatment of red quarry tile. A decorative mansard style roof of clay tile shingles caps each bay. The two storefronts at the smaller bays are original are are highlighted by bronze glazing members, cast iron trim, and decorative leaded glass transoms.

The primary significance of the Eagle Theatre is derived from the uniqueness of the interior facilities originally constructed and the quality of its architectural detail. The Eagle Theatre was constructed on the site of Pontiac’s oldest movie house in 1927. The building was leased, shortly after its construction, to the Butterfield Theatres. The interior of the theater displayed many Moorish elements, such as the Moorish arch proscenium and keyhole arches between the columns along the side aisles. On the second floor is a large room called the “Green Room” where performers and audience traditionally met after the performances.

The building’s third floor contains nine apartments originally intended to house travelling vaudeville performers. These are particularly unique because of their art deco bathrooms and Pullman kitchens which must be some of the earliest prefabricated complete kitchen units in existence today.

Throughout the interior of the building, finishes and colors are original and in superb condition making the theater one of the most architecturally complete in the State of Michigan and giving a truer picture of a facility constructed for the golden era of the American cinema.

The theater is now home to the nightclub, Industry.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

EMSIII
EMSIII on June 26, 2004 at 11:41 pm

Having been raised in Pontiac, Michigan in the 1930s & 40s, I was told “The Eagle Theatre Is Off Limits”, but you can go to the Stand or the grand old Oakland. I am aware the Oakland burned to the ground in the early 1960s and I muse thinking of the large sign painted on the back of the stagehouse wall, which read, OAKLAND THEATRE—OAKLAND COUNTY’S FINEST PHOTOPLAY HOUSE —ABSOLUTLY FIREPROOF. Do any photos exist of the Oakland Theatre?
Edward Millington Stout

CharmaineZoe
CharmaineZoe on May 11, 2011 at 11:13 am

Quote: “The Eagle Theatre was constructed on the site of Pontiac’s oldest movie house in 1927.” So what was Pontiac’s oldest movie house called? I ask because I have found in an old film magazine of 1926 a photograph (which is a reprint from an even older mag of 1911) of an old theatre called the Bond that was in Pontiac at that time (c1911). It is in an old wooden building and obviously a very early movie house with a group of people standing in front of the entrance in the clothes of the time. I know at the time it was showing films from the old IMP (Independent Movie Company, that was the forerunner of Universal) If anyone has any knowledge of this theatre I would be interested to hear.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 30, 2012 at 1:03 am

A list of theaters designed by architect George J. Bachmann published in the 1949-50 edition of Theatre Catalog includes the Eagle Theatre in Pontiac, with the design dated 1925.

The list of Bachmann’s works includes three other theaters in Pontiac: the Orpheum, dated 1920, the State, dated 1921, and the Strand, dated 1925.

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