Today, the Majestic Theatre is a celebrated Detroit concert venue, hosting everyone from Maceo Parker to Echo & The Bunnymen to Sharon Jones to Post Malone, but its history began more than 100 years ago as a legitimate playhouse.
The Majestic opened April 1, 1915, with 1,651 seats, and was designed by noted theater architect C. Howard Crane, who also was responsible for the Fox, Fillmore/State, Detroit Opera House/Capitol, and dozens of others in Detroit.
The movie craze was turning a slew of playhouses and Vaudeville theaters into movie houses in the 1920s, and the Majestic joined them.
The Majestic as it appears today shares little resemblance to how it first opened. In the 1930s, Woodward Avenue was widened, and this necessitated major facelifts of a number of key structures, few were as dramatic as the one given to the Majestic. While the Bonstelle Theatre saw its original front entrance removed, or St. John's Episcopal saw its bell tower relocated, the Majestic got a total new look. The firm Bennett & Straight gave the building its colorful Art Deco facade that stops traffic today.
The screen went dark in the 1950s, and the Majestic would find reduced use as a church or other smaller events.
Luckily, however, the theater survived demolition, and in 1987, it reopened as a concert venue. Unfortunately, much of its original grandeur has been lost to either neglect or the concert venue conversion. Its balcony is gone. Its ornate plaster ceiling has been busted up in places. Its proscenium arch was removed to expand the size of the stage.
Given its nearly four-decade run in that capacity, it has spent longer as a concert venue than as a movie theater.
More on this historic theater coming soon.