Project Description

The Michigan Theater was built in 1925 at 238 Bagley Avenue, near the intersection of Cass Avenue, in downtown Detroit. The Michigan Theater was designed by Rapp & Rapp in French Renaissance style. The Michigan Theater was a 4,038-seat theater that absolutely breathtaking in looks. The Michigan Theater was attached to the Michigan Building, which was built in the following year. The Michigan Building was a 13-story, office tower that lead to the theater as well. The Michigan Theater had a elegant mezzanine level, an extravagant lobby, and a mirrored-corridor that led to the theater’s glorious auditorium. Throughout the years, The Michigan Theater was always showing the most popular movies that featured the most popular actors and actresses of that time.

In the 1960’s, households began to have televisions and theater attendance dropped in shattering numbers. The Michigan Theater was no exception. The Michigan Theater was closed for good in 1971.

in 1973, the Michigan Theater was re-opened as a club and a rock concert venue, known as “The Michigan Palace.” The seats were removed to make way for a dance floor. Unfortunately, this plan was not very well thought out as the rock concert/club did more damage then good. The rockers ended up severely damaging much of the interior of the Michigan Theater and the concert venue closed for good in 1976.

In 1977, the Michigan Theater has another chance to come back to life. The owners of the Michigan Building paid $525,000 to gut the theater and build a three-level, 160-space parking deck inside it. The mezzanine, grand staircase, and main lobby were all taken down. The former Michigan Theater has now become a parking structure.

Much of the original theater still remains. Its ticket booth, proscenium arch, upper balcony, and even the red curtain, all partially remain inside the parking structure. The parking structure is private and only allows access to certain people to help protect the historical theater. People can drive by the outside and peek inside to see the cars parked under the gorgeous plaster details. The Michigan Theater still draws tourists, photographers, and gawkers from all over, just like it did when it was an actual movie theater. The Michigan Theater has even been featured in a few movies, most notably, Eminem’s “8 Mile.”

As of 2015, The Michigan Theater is still a parking structure that uses an old, historic theater for it’s retaining walls.