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Wreathed With Smiles: 1905

Wreathed With Smiles: 1905

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1905. "Temple Theatre, interior." A vaudeville house with that lived-in look. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.


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Rotten fruit could gain a lot of velocity from that upmost level.


In the direction of the finger.

Houdini may be one of the ghosts

More photos of the Temple Theater, on Monroe Street.


I like how the fire curtain goes all the way down to the stage, but it is painted to look like an ornate Asian tapestry, which doesn't quite make it to the floor. To enhance the illusion, there is a painting of a step with a runner rug going up it.


What's that machine sitting on the ledge of the second balcony, left side of the picture? Does anyone have an idea?

[Spotlights. - Dave]

Not to be confused with

... the Masonic Temple Theater (still standing).

[Which a number of commenters have done, some at considerable length. - Dave]

The upper balcony

I worked for an architectural firm that did the restoration of the historic 1928 Music Hall theater in Detroit, and there I learned that upper balconies were for "coloreds" - they had a separate entrance on the side of the building and their own box office. The upper balcony in Music Hall had never been updated, and the wall behind the last row was still stained with 70 years of hair oil!

Theater Seating

Amazing how the basic design of theater seats has lasted well over a century. How far back does this pattern go?

Exterior View

Monroe Street and Campus Avenue.

Re: This picture

I believe that's them, just below their customary box seat!

And is that Lloyd (of the Overlook) in the first balcony?


When they talk about an upper balcony, they ain't kidding! Imagine being the last row way up there.

I don't get it

Why is this described as having the "lived-in" look? That would seem to imply that it was seedy, dirty, or shopworn. It appears to me to be a theater in daily use, but I don't see any evidence of lack of cleaning or maintenance.

[Look closer. - Dave]

Lots of Greasy Hands

Lived-in, indeed. Maybe there was a rib joint down the street.

Brings back memories

I used to work at an old theater in Northern Indiana that looked a lot like this place, though considerably smaller. It started out about 1905 as a house for live plays and Vaudeville, in time went entirely to showing movies, and in the 1980s became a church. It's now in the hands of a non-profit organization. It's in pretty decent shape. The proscenium arch is still beautiful. The original asbestos curtain is still in place, and can be raise and lowered by hand using the decades-old hemp ropes. I did projector operation during my time there, which in those days was still an adventure in itself.

This picture

definitely needs Statler and Waldorf (of The Muppet Show) to be seated in the first balcony.

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