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<h2>Uptown Theaters</h2>
The Michigan Theater opened January 5, 1928, acclaimed as Ann Arbor’s own movie palace – “a shrine to art.” Ida Mae Chadwick and her Dizzy Blondes, a flapper dance revue, accompanied the silent film “A Hero for a Night” with a live orchestra and the Barton pipe organ. The following year, in 1929, the Michigan converted to talkies. During the Great Depression, live vaudeville and bands played between the movies. In 1932 you could see newsreels, cartoons, features, and hear live musicians – all for 50 cents.
In 1942, after the start of World War II, the Art Deco State Theater opened “ablaze with radiant beauty.” Showing movies only, it succeeded the aging Majestic Theater on Maynard Street. The Michigan and the State became the major venues for movies in the 1950s with the closing of the Main Street theaters – the Whitney, the Orpheum, and the Wuerth. From then to the 1980s most foreign art films played at the Campus Theater on South University Avenue and later at the Fifth Forum on South Fifth Avenue.
Movie theaters were threatened by competition from television and later from suburban multiplexes. Owners reacted in 1979 by dividing the State into four mini-theaters. The upper two survived after the lower two were converted to retail space.
The Michigan closed in 1979. The people of Ann Arbor responded by buying it and began raising funds for restoration. As a nonprofit, it has become the premier showplace for independent films, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Not Just for Kids series of live-on-stage programs, popular music concerts, and live theater.
Sponsored by Ralph P. Beebe, Pauline V. Walters, and First Martin Corporation
Photos courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library
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Michigan Theater

Michigan Theater image

State Theatre

State Theatre image

East Liberty Street, 1929

East Liberty Street, 1929 image


Majestic image

Duke Ellington, 1940

Duke Ellington, 1940 image

The Arcade Theater, 1925

The Arcade Theater, 1925 image