United Artists Theatre

150 Bagley Street,
Detroit, MI 48226

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Showing 26 - 50 of 73 comments

Twistr54 on June 10, 2010 at 8:10 am

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A few new photos of the building May 29 2010.

TLSLOEWS on May 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Nice photos looks like it has seen it better days.

Twistr54 on May 12, 2009 at 9:28 am

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This will take you to a file of a few photos I took April 24, 2009 of the buiiding. Also check out the other photo sets I have, I have some other Detroit area theatres.

JohnMLauter on November 11, 2008 at 7:22 pm

Quote:“What an awful city Detroit must be”

Hey, those are just the theatres! you should see everything else.

But seriously folks, we are the second theater city in the US behind New York by seat count (divided by # of venues), our Fox theatre is intact and has thrived for 20 years as a beautifully resored theatre, the Masonic Temple theatre has been restored, The State theatre is a rock club, can’t say much more than that but it’s there, open and somewhat clean. Our 1924 Book-Cadillac hotel just opened after a $180,000,000 renovation/restoration and the Pick-Fort Shelby Hotel is in the latter stages of renovation/restoration.
If anything we had too many theatres. Chicago (and New York and San Francisco, etc.) tore them down to put glass box office buildings up. Ours, the real estate under them isn’t that valuable so they sit and rot.

telliott on November 11, 2008 at 6:42 pm

What an awful city Detroit must be. How can any place allow such destruction of such a beautiful old theatre. And the magnificent Michigan theater becoming a parking garage of all things! Hard to believe they are in the United States.

JohnMLauter on October 9, 2008 at 10:46 am

Ehhhh—I wouldn’t classify it quite that way. There has been work done to the building to stabilize the structure, repairs have been made to the auditorium roof, quite extensively so that it may be a new roof. There is a potential taker for the building, but since they are in the mortgage business I’m thinking that might not happen for a while.
The city actually has been stepping up the inspection of buildings, what had been lax under previous administrations actually became more stringent under the Kilpatrick administration, I don’t know for a fact, but would presume that there has been a change at the management level in the city’s building department, the new guy is more of a go-getter and the Kilpatricks had little to do with it.
We all would like to see the theatre restored, it has suffered greatly over the past 30 years. I was there 33 years ago for the auction, and at that time everything was still there, all of the lobby furniture, lighting fixtures, the Wurlitzer 260-special, all tech equipment. The place had been white-washed and the procenium arch had been chewed open for wide-screen but it was all there.
If you restore it, you have to use it, and maybe make some money back. We have a lot of theatres in Detroit, two pretty big ones and some nice mid-sized theatres. I would like someone to restore and use the UA a daunting idea), but just don’t know.

bruceanthony on October 9, 2008 at 10:12 am

I recently heard work was done to the roof of this theatre. Has anyone heard what is going on with both the building and the theatre. I heard someone was interested in buying the building and using the theatre.brucec

rememberingdad on November 1, 2006 at 8:01 am

I really appreciated being able to find this information. On my recent trip to Detroit, I was looking for the United Artists and Michigan Theaters. My dad used to work at both of them and when I was a kid, I used to go to Grand Circus Park, and walk over to meet dad. I really appreciate the pictures and knowing what happened to these beautiful buildings. Thanks for all the work.

sdoerr on June 17, 2006 at 6:52 am

More activity unfolds, appears the curving awning is being removed

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 17, 2006 at 1:40 pm

Great news about the Fox. Reading between the lines of that press release, I get the idea that the UA is going to come down but that they are considering reuse options for the Adams. SNWEB’s pictures seem to back that view up in that the Adams appears to be more substantially intact.

SNWEB: your pictures are fascinating. But you should think twice about going into these half-crumbled buildings. When I was younger I made trips like that and consider it only luck that I didn’t get my ass kicked any number of ways (homeless person, security guard, gang member with weapons, falling plaster, tripping and falling down a staircase in the dark, happening upon spilled hazardous materials and getting sick). There was a photographer like you in Chicago some years ago. I think his name was Richard Nickel but I am not sure. He went into the old stock exchange when it was in the process of being demolished. A wall must have collapsed on top of the guy because he was never seen again.

sdoerr on January 12, 2006 at 5:38 am

A gate has been put up around the building as well as two huge mutlistory banners advertising a development oppurtunity.

Today Ilitch had a press conference that included the United Artists, Fine Arts Building, Fox Theater, and former Madison-Lenox Site and Detroit Building.

Full press release here.

Pics are under Media Room>Photo Gallery

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 10, 2006 at 6:41 pm

SNWEB: you have balls for going into this building and taking pictures. I think you could have been killed…by crack heads if not the falling plaster.

sdoerr on January 3, 2006 at 7:28 am

Can’t forget about the Cinema Treasures book aslo, EdSolero!

The owner of the Michigan Theater was kind enough to give me a copy of the Theater Society Annual from 95'. It has some great pics never seen before.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on January 3, 2006 at 6:48 am

Thanks for following up on my query, guys! I’ll have to look for that Naylor book. For my X-mas present, my better half found a used copy of Hall’s out of print “Best Remaining Seats.” I’ll have to set my sights on the Naylor book next.

JimRankin on December 26, 2005 at 12:12 am

Yes, it certainly is the MICHIGAN in Detroit, for I doubt there is another theatre so desecrated in all the USA, in that it is now a parking structure, hence the ease of filming a chase scene there. It was a wonderful Rapp & Rapp design, and what you saw were just as you said, portions of the top of the proscenium and side walls; the lower portions were simply torn away to the outer brick walls, and parking decks poured to connect to the columns in the outer walls. On page 181 of “American Picture Palaces” by David Naylor is a photo of what you saw, with even a piece of the drapery still hanging in shreds in the stagehouse behind where the Grand Drape would have been. The sight almost makes you wish the structure had been razed.

sdoerr on December 25, 2005 at 1:53 pm

Indeed this is a location in Detroit, Ed.

This is the beautiful Michigan Theater here in Detroit. here is my My page and here is the cinema treasures page for it.

My favorite theater of all time, the Michigan has been a cameo for quite a few movies.

Also in “The Island,” right after the Michigan Theater part, Johnny Rockets, the car crash/msn lookup scene, and the clone shoot scene with the angel, were all shot here in Detroit.

Ed Solero
Ed Solero on December 23, 2005 at 5:40 am

This theater has a cameo in the dreadful Michael Bay sci-fi action flick “The Island”, which I nearly fell asleep on last night. A large part of the film takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles that was apparently filmed in Detroit (with digital skyscrapers painted in later to give the appearance of a 22nd Century L.A.). There is a shot during a chase sequence where you can see the marquee and office building facade much as it appears in the photo at the top of this page, only more of a side angle looking straight down Bagley Street.

The chase ends with the vehicles running into what is absolutely an old decrepit theater where the floor looks to have been leveled and concrete poured for use as a parking lot or garage. The upper portion of the proscenium arch and side organ vents are clearly visible. Not sure if this is a location in Detroit… can anyone offer some help in identifying the place?

sdoerr on December 10, 2005 at 12:34 pm

Something is definately going on. Several doors have been installed on Bagley & Clifford to allow contractors through.

The marquee shown in the photo above was dismantled and demolished earlier today.

sdoerr on November 13, 2005 at 6:40 pm

Rumor has it that the UA will be torn down sometime this year. I’ve heard contractors have been in the building in the past month. Time will tell what will happen.

chconnol on June 30, 2005 at 9:37 am

All things change. And in the constant battle for real estate, even a former slum or an area that’s fallen on hard times can be brought back to life.

NYC is a perfect example. There are places now in all five boroughs that 10, 15, 20 years ago were some of the most vile places in the U.S. Now? They’re filled with boutiques, restaurants and sky high rents. It hasn’t been good for the movie palaces though.

sdoerr on June 29, 2005 at 10:52 pm

The theater is located in Downtown Detroit, and basically the area is dead but is slowly being brought back, many nice historical office buildings have been restored into lofts.

The area isn’t bad and it wasn’t in the past. It wasn’t filled with lots of businesses but that is chaning. Crime in the area is not bad, chanced of getting a crime done to you is 1.5 in 10,000

chconnol on June 28, 2005 at 6:35 am

That picture collection is something like a work of photographic art that illustrates not only the demise of a once grand movie palace but of the urban decay and ruin that accompanied it’s demise.

I’ve heard Detroit is bad but my God, it looks like a ghost town. Was/is the theater in a bad neighborhood now? The surrounding areas look completely abandoned. Could be used for a movie about a nuclear war or something.

Very, very sad indeed.