1540 Woodward Avenue,
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The Bleu Room Experience (Official)
Previously operated by: Telenews Theaters
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Telenews Theater, Plaza Theater
The Telenews Theater opened February 13, 1942 as a newsreel theater and could seat a little under 500. It was designed by Cyril E. Schley, who was a partner of C. Howard Crane, who designed most of the major movie houses in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park, the city’s downtown entertainment district.
Built in the Streamline style, the main feature of the Telenews was the large glass globe above the vertical marquee, which advertised the fact this was a newsreel cinema.
The facade was decorated in bright blue and orange terra cotta, separated by bands of glass block, which made for a bold and very modern looking building for the time.
In the basement, a radio station once broadcast behind large windows from behind which people could sit on benches and watch the news being read live. In the lobby, a teletype machine clicked away, giving patrons up to the minute news.
Among the March of Time headlines onscreen the theater’s opening day: ‘Singapore Under Siege’ and ‘Dorothy Lamour Sells War Bonds’.
By the 1960’s, people could turn on the news at home, and had no need for newsreels, and the Telenews Theater was closed.
In 1969 it was acquired by Nicholas George Theatres and substantially remodeled by Louis Wiltse. It was renamed the Plaza Theater, and seating was reduced to about 440. By 1971, it switched to adult fare, until closing in 1987.
Reopened in 1988 as the Tele-Arts Theater, it was now screening art and foreign features until it was shuttered in 1991.
The Tele-Arts Theater was rented to groups on occasion during the 1990’s, but began to decline. (Its spectacular globe and marquees long since removed.)
A good-intentioned attempt in the mid-1990’s to clean the terra-cotta facade resulted in its being somewhat damaged.
In 2000, the theater was converted into a nightclub called the Bleu Room Experience, which was open briefly, closed, and has since reopened.
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