Carver Theatre

1700 Chene Street,
Detroit, MI 48207

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Additional Info

Architects: Charles Howard Crane, George D. Hurlburt

Previous Names: Catherine Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Carver Theatre

The Catherine Theatre was designed by architect C. Howard Crane. It opened in 1913. Its address was listed variously as 1540 or 1700 Chene Street. Three years later, in a very early example of twinning a theatre, the Catherine Theatre was split into two auditoriums by George D. Hurlburt. In 1937, the theatre was renamed the Carver Theatre, and closed in the early-1950’s.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2010 at 10:27 am

The Carver Theatre was operating into the 1950s. An item in Billboard, March 24, 1951, said that the theater’s operator, David Korman, intended to convert the theater’s 210-seat television lounge back into a regular auditorium for movies. The item didn’t say when the television lounge had begun operation, but made it clear that it had once been the second auditorium of the two-screen Catherine Theatre. Prior to being opened as a television theater, the second auditorium had for many years been a tavern, according to Billboard, but it didn’t say when the auditorium had first been closed as a movie venue.

If the house was a true twin, and Billboard is correct that the television lounge had 210 seats, the other auditorium probably had about 210 seats as well.

As the Carver, this house was operated as an African-American theater. Television came along about the time theaters were being desegregated in many American cities, so houses catering to black audiences suffered a double blow, losing patrons to formerly segregated theaters as well as to television, so they went out of business at a faster pace than theaters in white neighborhoods during this period.

I’ve been unable to find any follow-up articles indicating that Korman’s plan to re-twin the Carver Theatre was actually carried out, but whether it was or not the theater probably didnt stay open much longer. The cost of installing CenemaScope equipment for two auditoriums probably would have done it in by the mid-1950s, if it lasted even that long.

Also, I found a couple of references to a Thomas Lynch as the operator of the Catherine Theatre in its early days, the earliest reference being from 1917. He might have been the operator who twinned the house.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm

The FDY lists the Catherine Theatre with 800 seats in 1930, and in 1931 and later it is listed with only 320 seats. Perhaps the drop indicates that the second auditorium was closed at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm

If the Catherine was twinned in 1916, it was probably part of the remodeling and enlargement noted in this item from the April 29, 1916, issue of Motogrpahy, thopugh the item doesn’t mantion anything about a second auditorium being part of the project:

“The Catherine Theater, Detroit, Mich., is being remodeled and enlarged, and will be ready for opening by July 1. The theater, when the new improvements are completed, will have a seating capacity of 800. The theater is owned and operated by the Lincoln Amusement Company.”

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