Source: Lansing Public Library
The Strand Theater began as the project of Walter S. Butterfield who wanted to build one of the finest theaters in Michigan. Ground was broke in March of 1920 and the building was completed in April of 1921. The theater had a seating capacity of 1,786 patrons. The site also housed a bowling alley, a billiard room and a banquet hall.
The Strand Theater and Arcade was located at 215 S. Washington Avenue and became an immediate hit with the people of Lansing. The popularity of vaudeville was waning and the decision was made to phase out vaudeville in favor of the new media movies. The Strand Theater remained popular with movie going patrons. The building was beginning to display its age and in 1941 the theater was remodeled in an Art Deco style. The old marquee was replaced with a new one introducing the Michigan Theater.
The Michigan Theater was a mainstay of the downtown community for years, but like all urban theaters it began to succumb to the pressure brought by drive-ins and mega-plex movie theaters. The end had come, in a way, for this theater. Fortunately it did not become just another abandon lot. Part of the building was converted into office space and the rest, yes, a parking lot.
Source: Michigan's Historic Sites Online
The Michigan Theater and Arcade is a large commercial structure containing the Michigan Theater and a two-story arcade. The theater was designed by John Eberson in a Renaissance Classical style labeled by the architect as French or Gallic. In 1941 the structure was extensively remodeled; it is now a pleasant mixture of classical and Art Deco elements. The structures front facade is two stories high-- except for a three-story, gabled, central block over the main entrance-- and is constructed of red brick and decorated with terra cotta pilasters and other trimmings.
The Michigan Theater and Arcade was built in 1920 and 1921 as the Strand Theater and Arcade Building. A commercial and entertainment center-- originally containing a theater, ballroom, bowling alley, and stores grouped around an arcade-- it was constructed for Walter Scott Butterfield, a Michigan theater entrepreneur and vaudeville pioneer. The theaters architect was John Eberson, one of the most talented and well known American theater architects during the golden age of theater design in the early twentieth century.
In architectural terms, the Michigan Theater and Arcade is significant not only for its lavish, original, French Renaissance-Classical detailing-- still intact in many parts of the structure-- but also for its fine Art Deco auditorium and lobbies, the result of a 1941 remodeling directed by John and Drew Eberson.
Source: Cinema Treasures
Designed by John Eberson in 1920, the Strand, with its highly ornate terra cotta facade, was originally a vaudeville house, but later started to screen movies as well, eventually switching to just movies. Like most of Eberson's theaters, its auditorium was decorated in atmospheric style, with neoclassical touches.
After closing as a movie house in the 70s, the Strand sat vacant and decrepit until 1984, when it was brilliantly transformed into a mixed-use office and retail center by the firm of Hobbs and Black & Associates. Although the auditorium could not be saved, its grand lobby, ballroom and storefront areas were transformed to their 20s grandeur. The focal point of the office foyer space is now the large marble staircase.
The facade was also repaired after damage inflicted on it during a "modernization" years before. Limestone of the same shade as the original terra cotta was used to replace sections of the original terra cotta that were lost.