Majestic Theatre

Detroit, Michigan | C.1915

Photo Credit: Marco Fratus

On October 25th, 2019, a new chapter was heralded in the story of the old Majestic Theater—by the presence of neon. Once graced with an equally impressive marquee decades earlier, the theatre’s new façade emphatically trumpeted that the space got its groovin’ tunes back. 

When it was opened in 1915, The Majestic Theatre was one of the largest in the world, capable of holding 1,651 people. Designed by Howard Crane, who would leave his mark on multiple theater buildings in the Detroit area, the Majestic was the place to be in the city for Vaudeville performances and moving pictures. Due to the widening of Woodward Ave in the 1930s, the theater had to lose its old front exterior and was replaced with an Art Deco design and matching marquee. 

A few decades passed before the theater eventually closed, becoming a church, and later, an art studio, losing its brightly lit entrance in the process. After being vacant for almost 10 years, owners would reopen the Majestic as a concert venue in 1984. But due to the multiple rehabs and iterations of the space,  it wasn’t obvious that the building on Woodward Ave was even a theater from it’s front entrance. 

In 2018, all of that would change with the announcement that ownership was putting $1 million into restoring the Majestic, including the addition of a marquee gracing its entrance once again. Modeled from photographs of the sleek original 1934 design, the Majestic’s signboard feels like the return of a long-lost film. Lit up at night, now glimmering from top to bottom, the view of the performance space from across the street is quite….majestic. 

Written By: Seamus McMahon

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