Remember This Old Grand Rapids Movie House? It’s Special Now!
Ah, the old movie houses in downtown Grand Rapid. They were big and grand, and there were many of them, the RKO Keith, the Regent, the Midtown, the Empress, the Powers, the Savoy, and this one above! Any guesses? What and where?
It was the Majestic Theater, better known as the Majestic Gardens in the early 1900s.
The Grand Rapids Historical Commission wrote about the grand Majestic Theatre saying:
"It featured the largest stage of any theater in the state, and a stage entrance so large that it was possible to drive a team of horses directly from the street onto the stage. A legitimate theater built for stage plays and presentations, it moved through the vaudeville era to a combination of vaudeville and movies."
As the years past, the Majestic evolved to only a movie house, but as people began moving to the "burbs" and the classic old downtown movie houses were being torn down, the Majestic was on the same chopping block and slated the be demolished.
Do you recognize the location now? It's the only remaining downtown movie house. But, it's not a movie house anymore. The Majestic has returned to its roots as a legit theater, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, one of the oldest community theaters in the country!
That was back in 1978 when Grand Rapids Civic Theatre was able to obtain the old Majestic before it was torn down in a land swap deal, renovated it, and moved in to stay.
It's so beautifully restored now. And, as I sort of remember the story, Fred and Lena Meijer we attending a show at Civic, maybe 2004-05, and were seated in the cramped balcony. Fred realized these guys need need help. And, as only Fred could do, got the Grand Action committee involved, and together with his lead gift, $10 million dollars was raised to again restore, renovate and re-create what is now the gorgeous Meijer Majestic Grand Rapids Civic Theatre.
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is now a proud piece of the performing arts scene in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.
Hey, I'm still waiting for them to drive a team of horses on stage! :)
MORE: Some Fun Photos From Michigan's Past