Forgotten Detroit
The Madison Theater
The Post Bar rises over the Madison's ruins.


The Madison fell to the wreckers in the early summer of 2000. At that time I had my first and only encounter with Kunsky's grand lady. The wrecking company Genesis 7 was kind enough to allow a friend Lucas Mcgrail and myself access to the theater. The trip was hastily put together and on a Wednesday afternoon I grabbed my camera and drove downtown.

We were allowed in through the alley entrance of the lobby. By that time the room had already been gutted. All that remained were the decorative iron railings around the mezzanine and stairs. More of the entrance lobby was intact. Though some of the walls separating it and the storefronts had been knocked down, I could still identify its form. At one end, leaning against the plywood former theater entrance, were a row of ornate light fixtures. They had once graced the theater space. Now they were destined for new homes.

Post Bar now under construction. Courtesy

We took the same route which countless patrons took to reach the auditorium's balcony. The auditorium space had been almost untouched by the wreckers. The seats had been removed but the decorative plaster remained. I could see the extent of the water damage caused by burst water pipes and a leaky roof. Much of the ceiling had dissolved away. However, the plaster around the stage and side boxes were pristine. The paint looked as fresh as the day the theater opened. Directly above the stage was a row of dancing classical maidens. Painted in shades of metallic copper it was hard to fathom they had spend 16 years in darkness. The foreman explained to us that they were going to attempt to salvage these maidens. I've since heard that they were successful.

As our tour drew to an end I took one last look at the auditorium. I knew I would never see it again. Within a few days everything I had just seen would be gone. Even in death it was a beautiful space. Despite the noise of jackhammers working 5 floors above us , the auditorium was peaceful.

I am happy to see new development downtown. However, I cannot help but be disturbed by the lose of this structure. The Madison could have been saved, and up to three months prior to the demolition I was assured that it would be. I hope the fate of the Madison does not become the standard for the other ruins.

Copyright 1999 - 2004, David Kohrman
Last updated on September 12, 2003