Gem Theatre

Gem Theatre
Gem Theatre Detroit
"Little Gem Theatre"
Gem Theatre - Detroit Michigan.jpg
Gem Theatre beside Ford Field.
Location 333 Madison Ave
Detroit, MI 48226
 United States
Coordinates 42°20′15.63″N 83°2′46.22″W / 42.337675°N 83.0461722°W / 42.337675; -83.0461722
Opened 1927
Capacity 450

Gem Theatre

Century Building and Little Theatre
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates: 42°20′15″N 83°2′47″W / 42.3375°N 83.04639°W / 42.3375; -83.04639Coordinates: 42°20′15″N 83°2′47″W / 42.3375°N 83.04639°W / 42.3375; -83.04639
Built: 1903
Architect: George D. Mason
Architectural style: Renaissance
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 85000993[1]
Added to NRHP: May 09, 1985

The Gem Theatre in Detroit (built 1927) houses a two level theatre with traditional row and aisle seating and intimate stage-level seating at cabaret tables. It shares a lobby with the cabaret style Century Theatre (built 1903). The theatre has stylings of Spanish Revival architecture. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.[1]



In 1902, the Twentieth Century Club, a group of cultural, socially prominent women, built a Mission-style building to house their club. The building, now the Century Theatre, is built of red brick trimmed with white sandstone. The first floor originally housed a dining room, while the second floor housed a 400-seat auditorium.[2]

In 1928, the member of the Century club contracted George D. Mason to design a theater addition to the Century Club building. The resulting Spanish Revival-style building was leased to the Little Theatre chain, which showed foreign films, and the building was known as the Little Theatre.[2]

In 1933, due to the Depression, the Twentieth Century Club disbanded. The Little Theatre, however, continued, suffering through several name changes, becoming The Rivoli in 1932, Drury Lane (and then the Europa in 1935, the Cinema in 1936, and the Vanguard Playhouse in 1960.[2] The Vanguard offered live theater rather than movies.[2]

Finally, in 1967, the theatre was named the Gem.[2] The building was used as an adult movie house until it closed in 1978. Soon afterward, developer Charles Forbes[disambiguation needed ] purchased the combined Gem/Century building, and began a complete restoration of the Gem Theatre in 1990.[2] The refurbished Gem opened in 1991.

Protected from demolition during urban renewal for Comerica Park, the newest home of the Detroit Tigers, the Gem Theatre and Century Theatre were moved five-blocks on wheels to its new location at 333 Madison Avenue on 16 October 1997. At a distance of 563 meters (1,850 feet) it is the furthest known relocation of a sizable building.[3]

Show History

Today, the Historic Gem & Century Theatres are two of Detroit's most intimate venues. They boast record breaking history as six of their shows are in the top ten longest running shows in Michigan: Menopause The Musical, Escanaba in Da Moonlight, The All Night Strut, Shear Madness, Forbidden Broadway, and Forever Plaid.

2010-2011 Plaid Tidings, Sister's Christmas Catechism (Century Theatre) Late Night Catechism 3:Til Death Do Us Part, Sister's Easter Catechism

2009-2010 Ethel Merman's Broadway, Forbidden Broadway Christmas, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Caveman (Century Theatre), The Male Intellect (Century Theatre)

2008-2009 Say Goodnight Gracie, The Rat Pack is Back, I Love You - You're Perfect - Now Change

2007-2008 Escanaba in Love, A Forbidden Broadway Christmas, Menopause The Musical

2006-2007 Menopause the Musical (Century Theatre), The Rat Pack is Back, Respect

2005-2006 Menopause the Musical

2004-2005 Menopause the Musical

2003-2004 Behind the Counter with Mussolini, Shear Madness

2002-2003 Triple Espresso

2001-2002 Shear Madness, 8-Track (Century Theatre), Fully Committed

2000-2001 Escanaba in the Moonlight, Dinner With Friends, Mind Games, Tropical Pickle (Century Theatre)

1999-2000 A Forbidden Hollywood (Century Theatre), A Forbidden Broadway Christmas (Century Theatre), Always Patsy Cline

1993 Forever Plaid

1991 All Night Strut


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f History page from Gem Theatre
  3. ^ Guinness World Records. "Farthest Building Relocation". Accessed 26 August 2006.


  • Hauser, Michael and Marianne Weldon (2006). Downtown Detroit's Movie Palaces (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-4102-8. 
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Meyer, Katherine Mattingly and Martin C.P. McElroy with Introduction by W. Hawkins Ferry, Hon A.I.A. (1980). Detroit Architecture A.I.A. Guide Revised Edition. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1651-4. 
  • Sharoff, Robert (2005). American City: Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3270-6. 

External links

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