Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 National Theater Previous Next
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2672
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 12:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I stopped by today and noticed a crew working inside. After inquiring on the who's who and what's what I was told that someone had actually bought the building and was possibly turning it back into a theater...

Can anyone confirm or deny?
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Kenp
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Username: Kenp

Post Number: 13
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 216.93.121.82
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 12:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Last time I saw that theater there were plants and trees growing out of the roof and it was really sickening. I hope there is a future for that building.
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Kenp
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Username: Kenp

Post Number: 14
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 216.93.121.82
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 12:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

http://www.forgottendetroit.co m/national/history.html

some info on the last paragraph
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Toolbox
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Username: Toolbox

Post Number: 903
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.184.29.148
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 1:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Kenp

http://www.forgottendetroit.co m/national/history.html

some info on the last paragraph




Problem is......Last updated on April 29, 2004
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Gambling_man
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Username: Gambling_man

Post Number: 717
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 199.178.193.5
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:22 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They are power-washing off the grime as we speak, looks awesome.......
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Chris_rohn
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Username: Chris_rohn

Post Number: 229
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 69.220.233.37
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

did they pull out the trees growing in the spires?
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 604
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They pulled out the trees when they were doing work on the building in January. They were trying to rehab it to garner interest in redeveloping it during the Super Bowl. That didn't work out the last I heard and work stopped shortly after the Super Bowl. Glad to hear work is moving forward again.
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Detroitstar
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Username: Detroitstar

Post Number: 13
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.8.144.6
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have never seen the inside, and therefore have no idea what the layout is or anything, but I always thought it would be a good location for a dinner/drink theater. Perhaps a stand up comedy club or something. I'm thinking something like "comedy Central Presents".
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 605
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I always thought they should run independent movies out of there, similar to the main art in Royal Oak or state theater in Ann Arbor.
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Machoken
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Username: Machoken

Post Number: 1226
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 207.145.38.104
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 3:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Don't you mean the Michigan theater in Ann Arbor? The State isn't primarily independents (at least not last time I checked...)

Independents would do okay at the National, but they'd be competing with the DFT. Comedy clubs would be competing with the City theater (and others?). I like the dinner/drink theater idea though, we don't have enough of those around.
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Detroitstar
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Username: Detroitstar

Post Number: 14
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.8.144.6
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 4:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Come to think of it, I dont know if there are any dinner/drink theaters or comedy clubs downtown?????
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Iheartthed
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Username: Iheartthed

Post Number: 51
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 68.40.50.194
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 4:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Is Coco's House of Comedy still on Jefferson?
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 606
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 4:38 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That place closed up months ago.
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56packman
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Username: 56packman

Post Number: 247
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 129.9.163.234
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 4:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The National is a case where the exterior far outshines the interior. It is sort of a plain Roman/Greek revival sort of interior, but little of that remains intact today (see forgotten's pics). It's a miracle it still stands. It's not that big a place, and would lend itself to something intimate, but there's a boatload of $$$$ needed before the first performance takes place. How about renaming it the Bill and Melinda Gates/Starbucks Cabaret?
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Krawlspace
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Username: Krawlspace

Post Number: 251
Registered: 04-2004
Posted From: 69.14.112.159
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 4:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I posted a lot of interior photos of the National last year.
Check this thread for some background info and pics.
https://www.atdetroit.net/forum/mes sages/36206/42350.html
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Deputy_mayor_2026
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Username: Deputy_mayor_2026

Post Number: 34
Registered: 04-2006
Posted From: 152.163.100.8
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 5:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Was the exterior cleaning up and wooden shield created for the Super Bowl?
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 607
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 5:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Most of the pre Super Bowl work looked like it concentrated on the inside. However, they did have a lot of scafolding up. But I never saw anyone working on it.
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1953
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Username: 1953

Post Number: 800
Registered: 12-2004
Posted From: 209.104.146.146
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 5:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why did we have to go and demolish the Monore Block? It was so terrific for vaudeville.
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Mbr
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Username: Mbr

Post Number: 63
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 152.160.42.163
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 5:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When I walked by today it looked like they were taking close up pictures of the architectural detail from a raised platform.
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The_aram
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Username: The_aram

Post Number: 4844
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.41.124.8
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 5:52 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

The State isn't primarily independents (at least not last time I checked...)




It pretty much is, actually. For the most part, both the State and the Michigan show indie/low-run mainstream films. There's a lot of overlap between the two, often something will jump between the two theaters as the Michigan does live performances as well as films. They also have a second screening auditorium. personally, i hate the State. it's a horrible place to see a movie.
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E_hemingway
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Username: E_hemingway

Post Number: 608
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 68.42.176.123
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 6:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Just walked past and the exterior looks sooooo much better. The contractor's sign said General Contracting Restoration or something like that. There was also a sign saying the Pheonix Group and the National Theater welcome football fans. I think that's left over from the Super Bowl even though I don't remember seeing it then.
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Machoken
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Username: Machoken

Post Number: 1228
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.85.155.145
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 7:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

For the most part, both the State and the Michigan show indie/low-run mainstream films.



Ah, then it's changed since my time in Ann Arbor. What do you guys do for first run flicks anymore? The theather on 5th is long gone.
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Border5150
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Username: Border5150

Post Number: 140
Registered: 03-2004
Posted From: 68.58.211.179
Posted on Thursday, May 04, 2006 - 8:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

How 'bout some pics of the work on the National for the out of towners??? Please???
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Funkycarrie
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Username: Funkycarrie

Post Number: 208
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 68.250.41.176
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 12:00 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The inside of the national is a pit, but it has some charm....it'll be interesting to see what goes in there.
Its not huge, like people have said, a dinner/drink theatre would be a good fit for it I think.
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Hornwrecker
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Username: Hornwrecker

Post Number: 1119
Registered: 04-2005
Posted From: 63.41.40.234
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 12:13 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I posted these maps of the theatres on the Monroe Block on the Moviehouse thread, but in case you haven't seen them...




Nickelodeons, vaudeville, and later burlesque. Eight theatres in that small stretch.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 2046
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.6.90
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 1:09 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The National Theatre has seating for circa 1,000.
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Detroitstar
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Username: Detroitstar

Post Number: 23
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.8.144.6
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 2:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Does anyone have pictures of the theater itself? I'm curious how the dinner/drinks theater idea would fit.
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Krawlspace
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Username: Krawlspace

Post Number: 253
Registered: 04-2004
Posted From: 69.14.112.159
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 2:47 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Check my above post for a link to photos, and search the archives. I have posted many shots of interiors and exteriors over the past 2 years...

On my way into another building in the CBD tomorrow morning, but I can't tell which one ;-)
I'll try to snap some shots of the National and post.
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Dmb
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Username: Dmb

Post Number: 183
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 64.88.86.3
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 3:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had always thought the only "alley-jumper" theater downtown was the Adams. It is very interesting to see that there were others on the Monroe block as well. Anyone have any pics of the Palace or Columbia?
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56packman
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Username: 56packman

Post Number: 255
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 129.9.163.105
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 3:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

monroe Detroit

from the LOC-HABS website
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 2049
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.150.189
Posted on Friday, May 05, 2006 - 3:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dmb, I incorrectly posted about a year ago that the Adams was the only Alley Jumper in Detroit. I was wrong. The Adams was the only Alley Jumper mentioned in the Theatre Historical Society's Marquee magazine on Detroit Theatres, my bad.

Besides these Monroe Ave. Alley Jumpers, there was at least one Detroit neighborhood theatre that was an Alley Jumper. Although Alley Jumpers were more plentiful (around the country) back in the 1900-1920 era, it appears that few remain today.

One interesting fact about the Monroe Ave. Alley Jumpers is the extremely long and narrow lobby that goes from the theatre entrance to the auditorium. Back in the early 20th century frontage on main streets was very expensive. One way to reduce costs was to have a "storefront" narrow theatre entrance, behind which is a long tunnel-like lobby, connecting to the large auditorium in the rear. The auditorium usually fronted on a secondary road, or as in the case of the Columbia Theatre, the auditorium was completely enveloped by alley's.

This is basically how the State Theatre is configured on Woodward, except the entrance lobby to the State had its' width doubled when a shoe store in the Francis Palms Building closed, and a drop ceiling was installed over both the original entrance (hiding ornate plaster) and the newly added storefront space. Chuck Forbes removed the drop ceiling, and had the storefront lobby space ceiling restored with ornate plaster that exactly matches the original narrow lobby.

The Playhouse Square Theatres in Cleveland also have long tunnel lobbys where the main entrances off Euclid Ave. are a long way from the theatre auditoriums set 200 feet back from the main street.

Shea's Buffalo Theatre (Rapp & Rapp) in Buffalo New York also has a long outer lobby hallway that is set far away from the main street. In the Civic Theatre in Akron OH (John Eberson), there is also a long narrow outer lobby. But that long lobby goes over (on cement pilings) the former Ohio Canal.

(Message edited by Gistok on May 05, 2006)
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Detroitstar
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Username: Detroitstar

Post Number: 37
Registered: 01-2006
Posted From: 35.8.144.6
Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 12:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, today is the third day in a row that I've seen people going in and out of the aluminum overhead door on the side of the National Theater. Any updates?
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Bindetroit
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Username: Bindetroit

Post Number: 1254
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.246.117.31
Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2006 - 8:12 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The City of Detroit sold the building to National Theatre LLC a few years ago. The plan then pitched to the City was for a combo entertainment venue/black cinema museum.

Three partners in the venture were Bernard White (White Construction), Mel Washington (Phoenix Group) and some guy with an awesome poster collection. Rumor has it that the relationship has soured.

Under pressure from the City and the SBXL Host Committee, some exterior repairs were made and the facade was cleaned up. Historic designation adds to the rehab costs and limits the possibilities. None of this is cheap and without a tenant or a use, impossible to bank finance. But for a few million dollars, the place could be good to go.
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Gistok
Member
Username: Gistok

Post Number: 2121
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.105.166
Posted on Friday, May 19, 2006 - 10:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That Black Cinema Museum idea has been around since 2000 when Preservation Wayne cleaned out the interior of the National (we had to wear face masks due to all the fine plaster particles in the air while we were cleaning).

IIRC, Raymond Parker was the name of the Detroiter who has probably the largest collection of black cinema memorabilia in the country. He was offered gallery space in a NYC museum for his collection, but turned it down because he wanted to display his vast collection in Detroit. Just nothing ever got off the ground. If this idea is still under consideration, that would be awesome.

But that museum space would have to be newly built ancillary space, not the theatre proper.
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Lowell
Board Administrator
Username: Lowell

Post Number: 2627
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.167.58.162
Posted on Saturday, May 20, 2006 - 9:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

https://www.detroityes.com/webisodes/2000/01beautiful_light/001212-02national_theater.htm

This is from 2000. I doubt if the sun will ever hit it like this now that Compuware is across the street.
national
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Llyn
Member
Username: Llyn

Post Number: 1537
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 68.61.197.206
Posted on Saturday, May 20, 2006 - 10:34 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Still, why are people going in and out of the building?
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Supersport
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Username: Supersport

Post Number: 10096
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.246.37.236
Posted on Saturday, May 20, 2006 - 11:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I heard that it's an after-hours club. Go to the side plywood covered hole at 2 am, knock three times, tell them you know supersport. :-)
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 2126
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.81.136
Posted on Saturday, May 20, 2006 - 12:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Lowell! Boy that lattice work on the towers is going to look awesome when it is lit up again (from within) at night. Ditto for the stud lighting around the entry arch.

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