One of Michigan’s most historic and revered structures is Detroit’s Fox Theatre. It will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary: opening in 1928, it was billed as “The Most Magnificent Temple of Amusement in the World”.

The ten-story, C. Howard Crane-designed mammoth structure was built as part of William Fox’s movie empire…yes that William Fox. The ‘Fox’ of 20th Century-Fox, Fox Film Corporation, Fox Broadcasting, etc…..That Fox. The theater in Detroit was just one of many Fox Theatres he owned throughout the country – hundreds of them. But the Detroit theater was more lavish than most of the others.

400 designers, doormen, matrons, and ushers
Brass doors
3,600 square-foot, six-story high lobby
Lobby decorated with butterflies, lions, and peacocks
5,000-seat auditorium
Egyptian, Indian, and Oriental decor
Wurlitzer pipe organ
The first theater with escalators and elevators
The first theater to feature talking movies
Chorus girls on stage between film showings
Live shows: big band, jazz, and rock
First film shown: “Street Angel” on September 21, 1928
Elvis Presley appeared three times in 1956

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The theater was renovated and in 1989 it was listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The modern theaters we have in the 2000s may be wired for 3D, or five-story tall screens, or hi-definition, or relaxing lounge seating, or other types of perks to spoil movie-goers…but they still can’t compare to the lavish, extraordinarily decadent décor and atmosphere of the Fox Theater.

It’s a place where the great, the not-so-great, the ordinary, the extraordinary, the mundane, and the exceptional all came to visit…whether on stage, on film, or as a member of the audience.

The gallery below includes a brief glimpse of this magnificent theater, its memories, and elegant architecture…

Memories of the Fox Theatre, Detroit


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