Detroit Opera House

1526 Broadway,
Detroit, MI 48201

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BobHollberg on February 1, 2021 at 2:40 pm

Slight correction to the overview. During the 1950s, the Broadway-Capitol showed many first run films, mostly drive-in type movies like science fiction (Creature from the Black Lagoon, I was a Teenage Frankenstein), crime (The Big Combo, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt), and exploitation (Women’s Prison, Hot Rod Girl). Towards the end of the decade, it hosted the Detroit premiere of many American International Picture movies like Hot Rod Gang and Attack of the Giant Leeches. The Palms had similar programming at that time, and both theaters provided entertainment for second shift workers with all-night programming. (All information from the Detroit Free Press archives on

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on September 25, 2018 at 6:32 am

David DiChiera, who was chiefly responsible for transforming the original Capitol into the Detroit Opera House, has died at age 83. News coverage here

rivest266 on November 7, 2015 at 10:49 am

December 23rd, 1960 grand opening ad as Grand Circus in photo section

rivest266 on November 5, 2015 at 1:20 am

August 30th, 1929 grand opening ad as Paramount as well as the August 31st, 1934 ad for Broadway Capitol.

rivest266 on November 3, 2015 at 3:40 pm

January 12th, 1922 grand opening ad in photo section.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on November 11, 2013 at 7:28 am

According to the website the Capitol opened with a 3 manual, 38 rank Hillgreen – Lane pipe organ. It seems very odd that a theatre of this quality should have had an organ from a distinctly second (if not third) tier organ builder. If the website is correct and the original cost was only $8000, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the chandeliers in the theatre didn’t cost more than the organ.

bethg on October 9, 2012 at 11:51 am

Thank you CSWalczak! I am an employee at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.. and we are much like your lovely Fox in Detroit. I did come across Ms. DiChiera’s work.. and realized that Mr. Crane had records on our theatre! Crane was brought in to assist the original architect of our theatre- Olivier Vinour after William Fox took an interest in the auditorium the Atlanta Shriners were building. It was with Mr. Crane’s help that our humble shrine became a great Fox Theatre. Thanks again!

CSWalczak on October 5, 2012 at 3:44 pm

bethg: You may have already discovered this, but Maria DiChiera did her Master’s Thesis at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 on the theaters of Crane (it is available online here. Her work extensively cites Wiltse’s archive. I think it is likely that she is related to, possibly the daughter of, David DiChiera, the Director of the Detroit Opera Theater. Possibly you might be able to locate her through the MOT Director’s office, and she may know how to locate Wiltse or where the archives might now reside.

Wiltse’s offices were at 6300 Shasabaw Rd. in Clarkston, MI. His company is dissolved, but perhaps, if the building, which houses a number of professional offices, is still under the same management that it was at the time when Wiltse was there is still in charge or retained records, they might be able to help. I am sure one of the existing tenants could tell you how to locate the management.

bethg on October 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Detroit Theatre lovers – I am looking for any information on C. Howard Crane’s archives which I believe were once held by architect Louis E. Wiltse. If anyone knows how to find Wiltse or the archives please let me know. Thanks!

CSWalczak on February 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm

“This has been the sole venue for all of the Michigan Opera Theater Productions”? Not by a long shot. Since its first full length production in 1970 until it moved into its present location in 1996, the Detroit Opera Theater performed in a variety of Detroit venues including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Masonic Auditorium, the Fisher Theatre, and most especially, the Music Hall, which was its home for many years and was the first former movie theater that the DOT restored and saved from demolition. Whoever wrote that Detroit History article is very misinformed.

Also, that picture above is a little misleading; it shows really what is the rear wall of the theater, part of the new stagehouse that was part of the renovation of the former Grand Circus into the Detroit Opera House.

The tragedy though, is that so many other once nearby similarly grand palaces – especially the Madison, the Michigan, the United Artists, and the Adams – are either gone or probably beyond rehabilitation.

krobinson on February 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Opera House is having a very important place in Detroit History. This has been the sole venue for all of the Michigan Opera Theater Productions and for other events as well, is the fifth largest theater in the world during the time when it was built. The building is just gorgeous, every seat on the main floor provides a good view. The staff is really very friendly they direct you very nicely and help whenever you need.

DavidF on October 26, 2007 at 7:11 pm

I toured this theater yesterday and it’s a beauty. Marvelously restored, with a really harmonious color scheme. Worth a visit if you’re in Detroit.

scottfavareille on August 7, 2004 at 10:46 am

According to the film “Badassss”, the legendary blaxploitation film, “Sweet Sweetbacks Badasss Song” premiered here in 1970.

sdoerr on August 6, 2004 at 9:59 pm

On the 4th, the Opera House cafe suffered a minor fire as reported in this article in Crain’s

sdoerr on July 22, 2004 at 10:33 pm

Where it said that in 1989 they also purhcased the Madsion, what did they do for the theatre?

sdoerr on July 22, 2004 at 10:30 pm

Albert Kahn Assosiates was the firm that did the restoration.

sdoerr on June 6, 2004 at 8:51 pm

Here is a pictue of the former Capitol, but was called Grand Circus at the time, Circa 80’s, I am guessing after the fire.

JOHNTHOMPSON on December 26, 2002 at 10:21 am

My favorite downtown theatre after the Michigan. As the Broadway-Capital & later the Grand Circus this theatre played mostly horror movies. When KING KONG was revived it played here. And other movies like I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. Later when the downtown theatres were losing out to big neighborhood theatres the Grand Circus tried other kinds of movies. With the increased popularity of ‘Art Houses’ the Grand Circus booked the great Indian director Satyajit Ray’s DEVI. A far cry from the likes of ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS. And later (perhaps an omen of its present incarnation) a film of Pucini’s LA BOHEME with Mirella Freni & Gianni Raimondi. But the theatre’s greatest day was getting the world premier of the greatest SCI-FI movie of all time: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.