The Madison Theatre was built in 1917 at a cost of $500,000… a hefty price tag for a theatre in Detroit at the time. C. Howard Crane built the theater for the Kunsky circuit in an elegant, understated Neo- classical style. It sat over 1800 and at the time, the largest of the theatres in Detroit’s former theatre district, Grand Circus Park.
Five stories of office space sat above the Madison and its façade was covered in a Terra cotta classical motif. Other than a small, relatively simple marquee, the original Madison could of pass for a typical office building. The Madison enjoyed immediate success, opening with the film ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’. Its features included a gilded plasterwork in the auditorium and lobby spaces, including a frieze of maidens over the stage’s proscenium arch and a tiered orchestra pit. By the late 20s and early 30s several larger and far more ornate places had joined the Madison on Grand Circus Park, such as the Capital, the State and The Fox, but the Madison continued to remain a popular venue for many more years.
Unfortunately for the Madison, the last film shown was in 1984 and ironically it was a movie called The Dead Zone which remained on the marquee for many years after it closed. The theatre had popped its last bag of popcorn, ran its last film and closed its door’s for good.
Now, Angelina Italian Bistro occupies the space where the Madison Theatre thrilled movie goers for many years. While the building is just a shell of its former self, it is our hope that sharing memories and photos will keep the spirit and history of the old movie house alive.
Copyright, David Kohrman, Wayne State University. Click the link below for more interesting facts and photos of the Madison Theatre.