Discuss Detroit DISCUSS DETROIT! National Theatre question Previous Next
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Rhymeswithrawk
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Username: Rhymeswithrawk

Post Number: 1803
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 14, 2009 - 8:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've found sites saying the number of seats at the National ranged from 800 to 2,200. If the Fox seats 5,000, I don't see how 2,000 is possible. It looks so small and narrow. Is anyone an expert on it? Or does anyone on here remember going to it when it was open (either for burlesque or um, porn)?
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Detroitbob48209
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Username: Detroitbob48209

Post Number: 14
Registered: 02-2009
Posted on Saturday, March 14, 2009 - 9:27 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would suspect no more than 800 seats...a gem of a theater with perfect sightlines and decent acoustics...old photos of the illuminated facade are breathtaking.
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Rhymeswithrawk
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Username: Rhymeswithrawk

Post Number: 1805
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 14, 2009 - 9:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

One such photo of the National illuminated:

http://i215.photobucket.com/al bums/cc280/buildingsofdetroit/ Buildings/natl7.jpg
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6221
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Saturday, March 14, 2009 - 11:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Rhymeswithrawk, the National Theatre seated somewhere between 800 to 1000 seats maximum.

When it comes to seating counts... funny things happen... building owners think that "size matters".

When the Capitol Theatre opened in 1922 it was boasted as 4,250 seats... although it actually had only 3,384 seats, downsized to 3,367 seats in a 1960 remodeling, and now down to 2,765 seats maximum after the 1990's restoration (the seating count varies, depending on whether or not the orchestra pit is needed).

When the Fisher Theatre opened in 1928, seating was boasted at 3,500 seats... although it actually only had 2,975 seats, downsized to 2,089 in the 1960 theatre reconstruction.

When the Michigan Theatre opened in 1926, seating was boasted at 4,500 seats... although it only had 4,050 seats... downsized in 1977... :-(

The common denominator in all 3 of these theatres is that John Kunsky owned (or operated) them.

Even today the wrong counts are still showing up for these 3 theatres on different websites.

As for the National Theatre... the Theatre Historical Society (who's seating numbers I trust)... is mum on the seating count for the National.
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Reddog289
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Username: Reddog289

Post Number: 980
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 1:53 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Although I do not ever remember it being open, One of my Uncles told me about when he skipped HighSchool took the Grand River bus downtown to see the girly show at the National.
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Rhymeswithrawk
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Username: Rhymeswithrawk

Post Number: 1807
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 3:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It closed in 1975, Reddog. At the time, it was called the Palace and showing porno.
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Reddog289
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Username: Reddog289

Post Number: 982
Registered: 08-2007
Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 12:14 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for the info. I remember when they had that block up in limbo."Save the Monroe Block".The theatre was impressive to me then.Loved the night time pic that was posted.
My Uncle who skipped school to see that "Girly" show did it in the mid 60's so he said.
In 1975, I was more concerned with seeing Santa at Hudsons then some theatre.
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Rhymeswithrawk
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Username: Rhymeswithrawk

Post Number: 1811
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 1:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's another question: Anyone know why James Wheeler's plan to house his black film collection and reopen the theater fell through? I'm guessing money, but does anyone know the specifics?
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 6227
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, March 16, 2009 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Rhymeswithrawk... I met Mr. Wheeler back in 2000 when we (Preservation Wayne) were cleaning out the National Theatre of fallen plaster debris. He seems like a great guy. I think the reason nothing ever became of the Nation Theatre/National Black Cinema Museum idea is that they couldn't get financial support.

Mr. Wheeler told me that the Smitsonian is interested in his collection, but he wanted to keep it in Detroit (wish Charles Lang Freer would have thought like that nearly a century ago :-().

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