Avenue Theatre

107 Woodward Avenue,
Detroit, MI 48226

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Additional Info

Styles: Italian Renaissance

Previous Names: Merrill Recital Hall, Wonderland Theatre, Avenue Burlesque Theatre, Triangle Theatre

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PRINCESS Theatre; Detroit, Michigan.

Built in 1859 and operating as the Merrill Recital Hall, it became ta vaudeville theatre from 1886 to 1901 operating as the Wonderland Theatre. The Avenue Burlesque Theatre was primarily a burlesque house which was operating by 1905. It was located on Woodward Avenue at Jefferson Avenue. It was screening movies from January 1916 when it was renamed Triangle Theatre. It was still listed in the 1935 Film Daily Yearbook. It was demolished in 1950.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 30, 2011 at 4:30 am

The Avenue Theatre operated as a movie house as early as 1916, under the name Triangle Theatre. Here is the item announcing the policy change, from The Moving Picture World, January 22, 1916:

“The Avenue theater, at Woodward and Jefferson avenues, one of the oldest amusement places in the city and for the past three years playing stock, has been leased to the Triangle Theater Corporation by Frank Drew, capitalized at $1,000, the principal stockholders being Pliny P. Craft, Fred M. Randall and Kenneth H. Kolpein. The theater closed with stock at eleven o'clock Saturday night, Jan. 8, and 12 hours later reopened as an exclusive motion picture house playing Triangle films, downtown first run.

“The house manager appointed is James Rutherford, for the past seven months he was assistant manager and press agent of the Miles-Detroit theater. The name of the theater has been changed to the Triangle. Prices are 10 to 25 cents for matinees and 10 to 50 cents at night.”

I’ve found mentions of the Avenue Theatre from as early as 1902, but it could well have been operation much earlier, perhaps under a different name. The facade of the building was of an Italianate style that reached its peak of popularity in the 1870s, but could have been built as early as the 1850s. The ornate arched theater entrance and other details look as though they were made of cast iron rather than terra cotta.

Ruby1926 on March 23, 2016 at 4:52 pm

I know it was a burlesk at one time. My late Aunt Ruby worked there ca. 1922. I have chorus girl pictures of the time.

DavidZornig on September 26, 2019 at 7:52 pm

1905 photo added source unknown.

nsortzi on October 7, 2023 at 11:09 pm

From the book Detroit’s Downtown Movie Palaces: “The Avenue Theatre was constructed in 1859 as Merrill Recital Hall at 400 Woodward Avenue. From 1886 to 1901, it was known as the Wonderland Theatre, a vaudeville house. Following the Wonderland’s move to Campus Martius, the theater was extensively renovated and reopened as the Avenue, a 1,000-seat burlesque theater. It was demolished in 1950 to construct the City-County Building.”

Note that the current address would be 107 Woodward, but before the address system changed in 1921 it would have been 400 Woodward.

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