Friday, February 15, 2008

Downtown Historic Movie Palace Tour Part 5

The Gem Theater opened as the Little Theatre in 1928. It was built for the Detroit woman's group "The Twentieth Century Club" as an addition to their Century Club facility which was constructed in 1903. After being opened for just one year, the theater was leased to Motion Picture Guild to show the first foreign films in Detroit. In 1959 the theater became the Vanguard Playhouse and hosted repertory theater. By 1967 the theater returned to being a movie house showing adult films until it closed in 1978.

The theater was completely restored and reopened in 1991 to host a series of hit musical and comedic productions. On November 10, 1997 The Century Club and Gem Theater were moved about a half mile from their original location to make way for the construction of Comerica Park. Thus, the theater had to be preserved for a second time. This time, the Century Club was restored as well. Many architectural features from the demolished Downtown YWCA were salvaged to facilitate the building's restoration. Pewabic tile from the pool, stained glass panels from the chapel, leaded glass doors, chandeliers, fireplaces and cornices were all seamlessly incorporated.

1 comment: