Grand Riviera Theater

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Grand Riviera Theater
Grand Riviera 1970.jpg
Grand Riviera in 1970
Location9222 Grand River Avenue
Detroit, Michigan
Coordinates42°21′58″N 83°7′51″W / 42.36611°N 83.13083°W / 42.36611; -83.13083Coordinates: 42°21′58″N 83°7′51″W / 42.36611°N 83.13083°W / 42.36611; -83.13083
ArchitectJohn Eberson
Architectural styleItalian Renaissance Revival, Mediterranean Revival, other
DemolishedJune 1996
NRHP reference #82002901[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 22, 1982
Designated MSHSOctober 2, 1980[2]

The Grand Riviera Theater was a movie palace theater located at 9222 Grand River Avenue in western Detroit, Michigan. It took its name from Grand River Avenue.[3] It was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1980,[2] and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982,[1] but was subsequently demolished in June, 1996.[3]


The Grand Riviera cinema was built in 1925, at a cost of over one million dollars.[3] It seated over 3000, and was the first "atmospheric" theater in Detroit, using lighting, special effects, and interior design to make the audience feel like they were sitting outdoors in a garden.[3]

Empty lot where cinema formerly stood

The theater was immediately successful, and in 1927 an 1,800 seat annex was built.[3] In 1957, the Riviera was converted to a stage theater. When the Fisher Theater reopened in 1960, however, the Grand Riviera took a back seat.[3] The building was used for music concerts until it closed in the mid-1970s. Afterward, the structure deteriorated, to the point that it was considered unsafe and demolished in 1996.[3]


The Grand Riviera Theater was a three-story structure built from brown brick in an Italian Renaissance Revival and Mediterranean Revival style.[2] An 80-foot-tall (24 m) octagonal pavilion sat on the corner of the structure.[2] The pavilion had arched, multi-paned windows and substantial cream terra cotta decoration.[2]

To the west of the pavilion was the three-story wing with commercial and office space. To the north was the auditorium section which was built with windowless paneled brick walls.[2]

The interior design and decorations of the Grand Riviera were very ornate.[2] The original "atmospheric" interior elements included a simulated courtyard, a dark blue ceiling with inset electric "stars" and projected moving clouds, and walls with artificial trees and vines.[3]


Images from 1970


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Grand Riviera Theater - Demolished from the state of Michigan
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Grand Riviera Theater (Demolished) from the city of Detroit

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