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Emerald Theatre

Not Rated Not Rated

31 N Walnut St, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
(586) 913-1920
 
A Brief History: It was 1920, just after the end of World War I, and Mount Clemens was flush with servicemen. The war had proven the need for a strong air force, and nearby Selfridge Field was booming with construction, improvements, and an influx of...read more
A Brief History: It was 1920, just after the end of World War I, and Mount Clemens was flush with servicemen. The war had proven the need for a strong air force, and nearby Selfridge Field was booming with construction, improvements, and an influx of men and material. Aside from the local hotels with their mineral baths, the only entertainment for these men were two relatively small movie houses with a combined seating of 850 people. Local investors saw an opportunity to provide an entertainment palace on scale with the exploding theatre district in downtown Detroit. Servicemen were in need of a place to spend their pay and expand their social horizons. The Macomb Theatre Company was founded early that same year with Mr. Frank J. Kendrick as its president. Plans were drawn up by a local architect for a large movie house with a seating capacity of around 1000. The building was to be used for movies alone with no vaudeville stage or commercial space included. At some point there was a falling out between the Theatre Company and the architect, and the project languished for some months. With investors becoming agitated that their money was not generating any type of return, pressure mounted for the process to move forward again. Detroit theatre architect C. Howard Crane was then chosen to lead the design phase of construction. Crane was already making a name for himself in Detroit and Windsor in theatre and commercial building design, having completed several large-scale movie houses in downtown Detroit including the Majestic in 1915, the Madison and the Adams in 1917, and Orchestra Hall in 1919. He would go on to design many of the great movie palaces of Detroit including the United Artists, State, Fox, and the Capitol (now the Detroit Opera House), and Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Crane brought several new ideas to the original design including an open proscenium with stage and rigging for vaudeville acts, dressing rooms, and additional space to accommodate four separate commercial suites. This change was significant in that without a stage, the theatre would surely not have enjoyed the extended life it has had with both live acts and its current nightclub configuration. The Macomb Theatre opened its doors to the public on July 25, 1921 with a capacity crowd of 1635 to watch the vaudeville performance of Pretty Baby followed by the film Scrap Iron starring Charles Ray. Rave reviews were given in the local press as to the buildings layout and opulence. However, the cost of the buildings additions and the extensiveness of the dcor put the Macomb Company at a loss on the project and it was forced into bankruptcy in 1927. Ownership of the Theatre passed hands several times over the next three decades, until coming under the control of Robert Vickrey, a former usher, in 1953. Under Vickreys leadership the Theatre was well attended, showing first run films and undergoing several remodeling projects, including the attempted modernization of the auditorium by hanging gold fabric over the interior walls and opera boxes. The hard times felt by all old movie houses eventually caught up with the Macomb, and in 1980, the curtain fell for the last time. In 1981 the Macomb Council for the Performing Arts gained control of the Theatre and brought live performances to the stage for the first time in nearly forty years. An extensive renovation was undertaken in attempt to bring the Theatre back to its 1921 condition. Unfortunately, the live performances were short lived, and over the next ten years several arts groups attempted a similar revival of live performance, only to disappointed by the lack of attendance. The 1990s brought new life into the old Macomb Theatre as it underwent yet another transformation, this time into a night club format. The original seating and pipe organ were removed, and bars for alcohol service were installed. The club business was good to the building, allowing revenue to be used to do much-needed infrast
 
 

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Music, Music Venues, Nightclubs

In Business Since

  • 1920

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A Brief History: It was 1920, just after the end of World War I, and Mount Clemens was flush with servicemen. The war had proven the need for a strong air force, and nearby Selfridge Field was booming with construction, improvements, and an influx of men and material. Aside from the local hotels with their mineral baths, the only entertainment for these men were two relatively small movie houses with a combined seating of 850 people. Local investors saw an opportunity to provide an entertainment palace on scale with the exploding theatre district in downtown Detroit. Servicemen were in need of a place to spend their pay and expand their social horizons. The Macomb Theatre Company was founded early that same year with Mr. Frank J. Kendrick as its president. Plans were drawn up by a local architect for a large movie house with a seating capacity of around 1000. The building was to be used for movies alone with no vaudeville stage or commercial space included. At some point there was a falling out between the Theatre Company and the architect, and the project languished for some months. With investors becoming agitated that their money was not generating any type of return, pressure mounted for the process to move forward again. Detroit theatre architect C. Howard Crane was then chosen to lead the design phase of construction. Crane was already making a name for himself in Detroit and Windsor in theatre and commercial building design, having completed several large-scale movie houses in downtown Detroit including the Majestic in 1915, the Madison and the Adams in 1917, and Orchestra Hall in 1919. He would go on to design many of the great movie palaces of Detroit including the United Artists, State, Fox, and the Capitol (now the Detroit Opera House), and Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Crane brought several new ideas to the original design including an open proscenium with stage and rigging for vaudeville acts, dressing rooms, and additional space to accommodate four separate commercial suites. This change was significant in that without a stage, the theatre would surely not have enjoyed the extended life it has had with both live acts and its current nightclub configuration. The Macomb Theatre opened its doors to the public on July 25, 1921 with a capacity crowd of 1635 to watch the vaudeville performance of Pretty Baby followed by the film Scrap Iron starring Charles Ray. Rave reviews were given in the local press as to the buildings layout and opulence. However, the cost of the buildings additions and the extensiveness of the dcor put the Macomb Company at a loss on the project and it was forced into bankruptcy in 1927. Ownership of the Theatre passed hands several times over the next three decades, until coming under the control of Robert Vickrey, a former usher, in 1953. Under Vickreys leadership the Theatre was well attended, showing first run films and undergoing several remodeling projects, including the attempted modernization of the auditorium by hanging gold fabric over the interior walls and opera boxes. The hard times felt by all old movie houses eventually caught up with the Macomb, and in 1980, the curtain fell for the last time. In 1981 the Macomb Council for the Performing Arts gained control of the Theatre and brought live performances to the stage for the first time in nearly forty years. An extensive renovation was undertaken in attempt to bring the Theatre back to its 1921 condition. Unfortunately, the live performances were short lived, and over the next ten years several arts groups attempted a similar revival of live performance, only to disappointed by the lack of attendance. The 1990s brought new life into the old Macomb Theatre as it underwent yet another transformation, this time into a night club format. The original seating and pipe organ were removed, and bars for alcohol service were installed. The club business was good to the building, allowing revenue to be used to do much-needed infrast