Adams in 1917.
by C. Howard Crane, the Adams Theater first opened
on September 1, 1917 as a legitimate house offering
1770 seats. After less then a year of operation the
theater switched over to movies. It was the second
movie theater on Grand Circus Park. The Madison Theater
beat the Adams by a few months.
was a rare breed of theaters known as 'alley jumpers'.
This meant that the theater was housed in a separate
building on cheaper property while the entrance and
lobby were in another building on more expensive property.
In the Adams case its entrance and lobby were housed
in the Fine Arts Building, a 7-story office building
facing Grand Circus Park that had been built in 1905.
The older Fine Arts was connected to the new Adams
auditorium by an elevated walkway and tunnel. Patrons
with tickets for the main floor would take the tunnel
under the alley and those with seats in the balcony
would go over the alley via the elevated walkway.
The interiors reflected a style far simpler then Crane's
later United Artists Theater. Simple floral plaster
panels were set around the stage and boxes. These
were painted in a rainbow of rich colors. The theater
had side boxes on both sides of the stage. These reflected
its origins as a legitimate house. Sides boxes were
rare in later movie theaters, their place often taken
by organs. As with his later United Artists, Crane
installed two balconies. The lower balcony was dwarfed
by this upper cousin. However, Crane's engineering
was limited at this point and both balconies required
the support of columns. Nearly all of the theater's
original charm and decorative plaster was removed
or obscured by 60s renovations. Patrons were now presented
with a blue box.
now destroyed marquee.
1980s the theater struggled with the decline of Grand
Circus Park. The Adams' fare now included porn films.
In an effort to complete with suburban multiplexes
the theater was again renovated in 1986. On this occasion
the upper balcony was split into two additional auditoriums.
The presence of three screens did not help and by
November of 1988 the theater closed. The end had finally
come when a group of movie-going youths engaged in
a gun battle in the middle of a screening. A popular
theory explaining the theater's closing is found a
few blocks down. In 1988 the nearby Fox Theater reopened
after an extensive renovation. Both buildings where
owned by Mike Ilitch, the Red Wings/Little Caesar's
baron. Its been said that Ilitch didn't want it known
that the Fox was owned by the owners of the 'porn
palace' so the Adams when bye bye. Why, after the
hugely successful revitalization of the Fox, Ilitch
never made any efforts to save the Adams is unknown.
has made some actions on the property in recent years.
In November 1999, the old Adams marquee, a product
of the 60's, was torn off the building. A ugly bare
brick facade and a few black boards are all that remain
to remind pedestrians what stands there. Only time
will tell if the rest of the theater will follow the
marquee into memory.