The Michigan Theatre was designed in French Renaissance architecture and was built downtown Detroit in 1925. The Michigan Theatre costed more than $3 million to build in the 1920’s. The theatre was designed by the Rapp brothers and the Michigan Building office tower that was built directly above the theatre opened in 1926. The Michigan Theatre eventually went abandoned in the 1970’s. In 1977-1978, the Michigan Theatre was gutted and converted into a parking structure. Only the retaining walls remain of a former magnificent Detroit theater.
Let’s revisit Detroit’s most famous theater, The Fox Theater. The Fox Theater was actually vacant for a period of time in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was actually vacant when current owner, Mike Illitch of Little Cesar’s Pizza fame, bought the then-doomed theater in 1988. Mike Illitch then decided to save the Fox and put $12 Million into a renovation project and reopened the historic gem. Thank God for that because it is truly one of a kind and one of the most gorgeous theater’s ever built.
The Gem Theater
The Gem Theater was built 1927 by George Mason. The theater houses a two level theater with traditional row and aisle seating and intimate stage-level seating at cabaret tables. It shares a lobby with the cabaret style Century Theater which was built in 1903. The theater has a styling of Spanish-Revival architecture. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
Dom Polski Hall
Dom Polski Hall was built in 1912, which makes this magnificent building over 100 years old. Dom Polski Hall served as a focal point for the social activities of Polish immigrants and their children that once lived in this east side Detroit neighborhood. Polish immigration to Detroit began in the 1880’s and the first main settlement was in this neighborhood. The name of this highly populated area of Polish immigrants was called “Pole-Town.” Dom Polski Hall has been largely vacant since 2007, although the caretaker lives there most of the time. Dom Polski was put up for sale back in 2012.
Detroit Yacht Club
The Detroit Yacht Club was founded by Detroit sailing enthusiasts in 1868. The first Yacht Club buildings, a small clubhouse and boat shed, were constructed in the late 1870’s at the foot of McDougall Street, just south of Jefferson Avenue. In the early 1880’s, the members were divided over the club’s growing social activities, and in 1882, one group broke away to form the Michigan Yacht Club. The remainder elected James Skiffington Commodore (the club’s title equivalent to the “President” of other recreational and social organizations). In 1923, the present-day clubhouse was dedicated. It’s construction had cost more than one million dollars, the work of architect George Mason. By the end of the following year, membership had reached 3,000. Prominent member and Commodore Gar Wood set world speed records in hydroplanes and with his Gold Cup victories brought the club to national and even worldwide prominence. Beginning in 1921, the DYC started sponsoring the hydroplane races. Membership declined dramatically during the Great Depression and some services were even suspended. By 1946, all bonds had been paid, and the club was again debt-free. The club’s women formed the first women’s sailing organization in the country and raced the club’s catboats. During the next decade, dining facilities would be expanded, and theater-quality projection equipment installed in the ballroom, where Sunday evening screenings became a regular feature of club life. Today, the Detroit Yacht Club features a number of special events annually and has played a major part in the recent resurge of Hydroplane Racing in Detroit on the Detroit River.
The Detroit Opera House
The Detroit Opera House is located at 1526 Broadway Street in Detroit, Michigan within the Grand Circus Park District. The 2,700-seat venue is the home of productions of the Michigan Opera House Theater. The theater was originally designed by C. Howard Crane, who created other prominent theaters in Detroit including, the Fox Theater and the Detroit Orchestra Hall. It opened on January 22, 1922.
Cass Tech High School
Cass Tech High School was by far my favorite place ever….EVER!!! Hands down the best location ever! I love schools and I love when schools leave everything behind. Cass Tech had it all! They left everything behind and it was 8 floors of pure enjoyment. This place was like an amusement park….seriously! There was 3 gyms, 2 pools, and a huge auditorium. It has been 3 years since they demolished Cass Tech and I miss it everyday. It will remain as my favorite building ever!
Well I thought we would revisit the famous Grand Army of Republic (GAR) Building since there was news this week of 2 restaurants opening on the first floor very soon. The GAR Building is a spectacular building located on Grand River in downtown Detroit. Many people refer to it as the “castle” because of it resemblance to a medieval castle. It was abandoned for many years before someone bought it in 2012. They have been renovating it ever since. I was lucky enough to get in there back in 2011. The first picture shows one of the big famous curved windows from the inside. It used to obviously light up the wooden stairway. The second picture shows some of the light fixtures, old wooden doors, and detail that were throughout the GAR Building. The GAR Building will hopefully open, or should I say re-open, very soon.
Detroit Music Hall/Wilson Theater
The Detroit Music Hall is a 1,700-seat theater located at 350 Madison Street in downtown Detroit. It was built in 1928 as the Wilson Theater. John Dodge and his brother Horace Dodge were original investors in Ford Motor Company who sold their interest and established their own company, the Dodge Motor Company, in 1914. Both of the brothers died in 1920, leaving their respective widows very wealthy women Matilda Dodge Wilson, John’s widow, married in 1924 to Alfred Wilson, was interested in stage productions and decided to use part of her fortune to build a venue in Detroit. She hired the prominent Detroit architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman, and Grylls to build the massive theater. At the time of its opening in 1928, the building was dubbed the Wilson Theater.
First Unitarian Church
The First Unitarian Church was a true historic location located on Woodward Ave near the edge of downtown Detroit. It was built between 1889 and 1890, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks in 1982. The First Unitarian Church was over 100 years old and was built by Donaldson and Meier Architects. It was built in a Romanesque Revival architectural style with a dark-red sandstone exterior. It was ravaged and destroyed by a 2-alarm fire on May 10, 2014.
Picture 1: The wooden beams that line the ceiling give the First Unitarian Church a very unique, but beautiful look.
Picture 2: The all-wooden spiral staircase that leads up the tall tower of the church.
Picture 3: This back room was completed with a nice fireplace in the middle of the room. There were like 3 or 4 fireplaces throughout the building, but ironically, none of the fires in any of these fireplaces over the past 100 years caused any fire damage.
Picture 4: A look at the former sanctuary and the famous arched windows. There was a balcony on the right that consisted of a few rows of pews for people to get a nice overlook of the sanctuary.