Ramona Theater

13705 Gratiot Avenue,
Detroit, MI 48205

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: United Detroit Theaters

Firms: Kohner & Payne

Styles: Atmospheric, Italian Renaissance

Nearby Theaters

1930 photo courtesy of Nancy Bellia Butler.

The Ramona Theatre, which opened in 1929, was designed by the firm of Kohner & Payne, and closely resembled the Grand Riviera Theatre (or Riviera) which was designed by John Eberson (and has since been demolished).

Like the Riviera Theatre, the Ramona Theatre had a domed hexagonal lobby, and its exterior was built to resemble an Italian palazzo.

Competition from the nearby Warren Cinema caused business at the aging Ramona Theatre to fall off in the late-1960’s and early-1970’s, and it was closed not long after.

It was used as a venue for rock concerts for several years, before being razed in early 1978.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

JerryD on October 17, 2006 at 5:55 am

I worked at the Ramona several times thru the 60’s and a couple of years in the 70’s, 1970,71 & 72. It was a great place to worked. We had kids show almost every Saturday afternoon, serving Sno Cones @ .10cents and Cotton Candy Cones @ .15cents. The crowds were great. The theatre was on the down road due to the new new Warren Cinemas and Eastland Mall, with there abunance of parking. The Ramona at that time had 1499 seats and parking for two cars. This was the wecking ball for the Ramona and numerous other neigberhood theatres.
The cashier was Marie Fox, Marie worked at the Ramona over 44 years, she was a ledgend in the area, she knew everyone. She would set out from the theatre in her small circular box office, watching the world go bye, people were always stopping and say Hy. I will always remember Ramona, a great place to work and the greatest customers who supported the place long after hits time. My last two great stand employee’s Nancy & Barb who would go out and promote the kids shows in the area, Denby Sweet Shop and others places. They always worked the stand on the Saturday mats, with the Cotton Candy in thier hair, on thier uniforms and smell was every where. That was a grand old time. JerryD.

lsb926 on March 20, 2007 at 4:31 am

I worked at the Ramona in 1975 while it was on its way out. It was still owned by Plitt Theatres for the first couple of months and then was sold to private individuals. It changed hands twice in the year I was there. I was still there when it ceased to operate as a theatre. A very sad day for me as I had a lot of memories there including receiving my first kiss in the old balcony and the fact that it was my first job. Marie was gone when I got there, but I remember her from the matinees when I was kid. We would go to the show and then cross the street for burgers at Fred’s. I drive past there everyday on my way to work, and find myself humming, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

maciejp on September 15, 2007 at 11:16 am

Maciej Pachnik: I lived on Strasburg Street, several blocks from Ramona. I remember seeing my first movie there, Jaws! I remember there was a HUGE giant chair in the lobby. Anybody remember that? Also I had fun times during the demolition, sneaking in and exploring. What a beautiful place it was, even when being torn apart. It was a great place (the area) to grow up but too bad the neigborhood is crack town now.

JohnFindlay on December 27, 2007 at 8:52 am

My family lived in the Detroit area from late 1800’s to the 1990’s. I have a curved handle baby spoon that reads, “Land O' Nod, Ramona Theatre Bldg.” Does anyone know what the history of the spoon may be? I’m told that it may have been a movie give-away and may be related to Ted Healy and the Three Stooges doing a performance at the Ramona, but I can’t find anything to support this. It would be my (uneducated) guess that the spoon is circa 1930-1950’s. Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks, John

kathy2trips on December 5, 2009 at 11:40 pm

That was such a pretty neighborhood. I’m so sad to hear it’s gone downhill. I used to go to the Romona, as well as the Harper and the Vogue, depending on what was showing.

DavidZornig on December 26, 2014 at 10:29 pm

1930 photo added courtesy of Nancy Bellia Butler.

DavidZornig on August 20, 2019 at 8:31 pm

Facebook post with copyrighted demolition photos in the comments.


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