Yesterday was the 5th annual Walkerville Holiday Walkabout. One on Wyandotte Street’s grandest buildings was even open. The Walkerville Theatre designed by renown theatre Architect C. Howard Crane in 1918, and built in 1920, had it’s doors open to the public for the first time in a while.
The photo above comes from the May 1921 issue of The Michigan Architect and Engineer.
Surprisingly this grand old movie theatre has spent the majority of its life in alternate uses. Since being built for Vaudeville and movies, the building has also been a bingo parlor and a night club. Comparing the original photo to the present day, you can see that the large window on the second floor has been altered, as well the cornice is gone as is the stone coping along the roofline, and a decorative keystone. However, that being said the building is still in great shape, both outside and inside…
Looking to the right of the stage and the second floor boxes, the interior of the auditorium is in amazing condition.
The stage has been expanded, and the last time I was in the building a few years ago was to see a local theatre production of the Odd Couple. To be honest I only attended because I wanted to see the inside, and to check out C. Howard Crane’s fabled acoustics… The sound traveled very well. Crane was well know for producing near acoustically perfect auditoriums. It was a treat to see live theatre inside a classic theatre.
Looking back toward the balcony from the stage area.
The second floor mezzanine behind the balcony.
In the balcony, many of the original architectural design elements remain.
A general view of the balcony.
A fish-eyed panorama of the auditorium from the balcony.
A view of the auditorium from the projection booth. This shot was taken out of one of the projector slots.
Looking back towards the balcony from one of the side boxes.
A view of the backstage area. The dressing rooms were located in the basement.
The door frames have retained their original elements. As you can see by the posters on the door, the building will be open for a new year’s eve party.
Here are the details of the benefit party, if anyone is interested in attending New Year’s at the Walkerville Theatre.
Joan Charette is involved in the Walkerville BIA and is the agent who is listing the theatre for sale. Asking price is only $549,900… Looks like I’m only about $549,000 short…
For the right buyer though, the theatre could be quite a bargain… Hopefully it returns to public service soon, it would be great to see some events happening down here. With the recent loss of the Capitol, there is certainly a niche to fill in the city with regards to performance space.