315 E. Grand River Avenue,
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The Howell Theater was constructed in 1927 as both a movie house and a live entertainment venue. It replaced the smaller Temple Theater (located one block west) that was apparently suitable only for movies. It also provided a stage and orchestra pit suitable for musical and live entertainment that would have been previously held at the Howell Opera House that closed several years earlier. The theater was built by the Locey family.
As late as New Year’s 1932 there was still live musical entertainment at the theater along with movies. In 1938 the Howell Theater was extensively renovated by the Schulte Amusement Company of Detroit which had acquired the theater. The renovations included more spacious seating (which remain) and bathrooms, new projection and sound equipment, acoustical treatment, and a new marquee that complimented the original vertical sign that was retained.
Schulte Amusement continued to operate the theater for many years, although by 1944 the theater was being used exclusively as a movie house. In 1956 they again replaced the marquee along with the original entrance and canopy. The original theater sign and 1938 marquee were also removed. The original storefronts were not altered and remain to this day, although some architectural elements may have been covered over.
By 1970, the theater had been acquired by The Wisper and Wetsman Company, that ran the theater as the Howell Theater Corporation. During the 1970’s the plaster walls were covered by draperies and the movie screen was moved to the front of the proscenium to accommodate a larger picture. The sound system was also upgraded around this time and it remains.
In 1998 the theater was placed on the market and closed its doors in December, 1998. The theater was acquired by the City of Howell in June, 1999.
Carol Chandler, a real estate appraiser whose company, Chandler Corp. purchased the Howell Theater from the city, restored the Howell theater.
Today, the Howell Theater has been restored from top to bottom. The brand new marquee welcomes you into a totally remodeled and restored interior. Two auditoriums with new seating, DTS sound, as well as immaculate restrooms. An excellent snack bar completes the picture.
The Howell Theater was closed as a movie theatre on May 5, 2009, but reopened on November 6, 2009. It was closed again on August 13, 2013 and reopened September 26, 2014.
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