Detroit Opera House
2002 Photo from the Adam Martin collection.
1526 Broadway St|
|Record #9917 |
Opened: January 12, 1922|
Capacity: 2700 seats|
Architect(s): C Howard Crane; Minoru Yamasaki Associates
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: Capitol, Paramount, Broadway-Capitol, Grand Circus|
| Previously operated by: Publix Theatres, United Detroit Theatres|
The Detroit Opera House began life on January 12, 1922, as the 3,485-seat Capitol Theater. The Capitol was the area's first real movie palace, reputed to be the fifth-largest movie theater when it was built.
Designed by C. Howard Crane in the Italian Renaissance style, the Capitol cost $2 million and featured a marble staircase in the grand lobby.
Eduard Werner led the 35-piece "Great Capitol Wonder Orchestra", featured in a series of "Sunday Noon Concerts", until he left the Capitol in 1926 for the new Michigan Theater.
Opening day featured the film "The Lotus Eater" along with footage of guests entering the theater 90 minutes earlier, film which was developed on location.
The Capitol featured elaborate stage shows, including the Paramount-Publix shows, until 1929. Fatty Arbuckle, W.C. Fields and Guy Lombardo all made appearances here.
The theater's name was changed to the Paramount in 1929 and lasted until the theater closed in December of 1932. The theater reopened in 1934 as the Broadway-Capitol under the United Detroit circuit. Management was changed to Saul Korman in 1952 and then back to United Detroit in 1954, who remodeled the venue in 1960. Throughout the 1950s, the theater featured second-run shows and double bills instead of converting to wide screen shows. The Randolph organ was removed in 1957 and moved to Oakland, California's Paramount Theatre.
The 1960 remodeling reportedly cost $100,000, and seating was reduced to 3,367. The facade was completely changed at that time and the theater became the Grand Circus at this time. The theater continued to struggle, showing second-run films, until closing in October 1978. The last booking was a triple feature of "At Last", "Jailbait Babysitter" and "A Naked Rider".
Concerts were held at the Grand Circus from 1981 until 1985, when safety concerns about the balcony and a fire closed the theater.
The Michigan Opera Theatre purchased the Grand Circus and the Madison Theaters in 1989 for $3.5 million and embarked on a $20 million project to restore the theater and enlarge the stage, transforming the former Capitol into the Detroit Opera House. This is the third house in Detroit to be called "Detroit Opera House".
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
August 2004 photos from the Tom Plassman collection.
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May 2002 photos from the Adam Martin collection.
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July 2001 photos from the Adam Martin collection.
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Photos from the Andrew Foot collection.
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Last featured 11/28/2004. Last edited 5/16/2020.