Motor City Theatre - Warren MI

Address: 23025 Van Dyke
City: Warren
State: MI
Zip: 48089
County: Macomb
Open:
Capacity:
Owner History:
Theater Type: Neighborhood House
Number of visits to this page: 11144
Disclaimer:

Please note that location entries may feature older photos or post card views that may not represent the current appearance or features of the attraction. This site is intended to be a historical as well as current record of various attractions but it is not always possible to have up-to-date information due to the vast number of locations featured here. We ask you consult the propietor for current information.

General Information:

From WWW

The address is in dispute somewhat with this one. I am using 23025 Van Dyke as a Detroit Free Press Article from 1973 indicates that was the address of the roller rink which we know is the same place. Most articles and documents say the building was on the corner of 9 Mile and Van Dyke. That address doesn't exist of course but Google Maps takes you right to the intersection of 9 and Van Dyke. The final note on that is a post from Ross Quinlan who worked for the post office right nearby. He also states it was a Van Dyke address.

This place began as a theater and was eventually converted to a roller rink in 1961. That lasted until 1986. As the roller rink, it also hosted live music. In fact many big bands of the 80's performed there including The Pretenders, John Lydon (Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), Rick Derringer and Pat Benatar to name a few. It was eventually demolished and there is no trace of it today. That corner is totally re-built now.

From Andy Gray

Here are three photos that my Grandfather (Al Johnson) apparently took, which I found last month among his papers. His handwritten notes are on the back of two of them.

  • The back of the photo showing work on the entrance before the marquee was erected is noted “Motor City July 8, 1939”
  • The back of the steelwork photo is marked “Motor City 1939”
  • The street view photo of the theater (with “Hopalong Cassidy The Showdown also Zanzibar” on the marquee) has no notes on the back. Both films were released in 1940 – the year after the theater opened.
These remaining four promo photos were also taken by O.L. Taylor and were marked by Al Johnson as “Motor City ’39.” I’ve included images of the back of a couple of one of the photos. This typed description of the wall materials, theater owner, contractor, architect and plastering sub-contractor was taped to the back of two of the photos. Because it mislabels the general contractor as “Johnson Building Co.” rather than “Johnson Construction Co.” (the actual name of my grandfather’s company), I think someone other than Al Johnson typed and attached this info to the back of two of the photos.

Click the following links for locations of interest nearby:
Info Updates:
3/18/2021 - Andy Gray

Today we'll look at another former Warren movie house called the *Motor City Theatre, *which stood at 8120 E. Nine Mile Road. My uncle's list shows the* Motor City* as a 1939 Johnson Construction Company project.* *My grandfather Al Johnson's slide, taken in August 1948, shows a relatively large entrance with four sets of double doors and an immense vertical *Motor City *neon sign above the marquee. The 1948 film "Alias a Gentleman" with Wallace Beery, and the 1937 Western *"Rustler's Valley" *were showing at the time.

In the same building, a drugstore can be seen to the left of the theatre. The visible sides of the building facing the two streets are done up in a nice art moderne or art deco style. The *Cinema Treasures *website provides this brief history: "The Motor City Theater opened in 1939 and closed around 1960. A year later the building was converted into the Motor City Roller Rink. The building was demolished in the 1980’s and replaced by a strip mall."

11/17/2012 - Phillip Trosko
Yeah I remember the Motor City Theatre. I guess it was the 1950's and my parents would drop me and my friends off for the Saturday matinee. It was noisy and everybody was there to see your friends, eat candy and have a blast over the cartoons. I went there for the Sci Fi flicks and the occasional adventure thriller of the day. I remember they would run news reels and some ancient adventure serials. My favorite was Comando Cody and Flash Gordon. The flying suit was a boy's dream and I thought Ming the Merciless was the coolest dude since our next door neighbor. I wasn't into roller skating because of a fractured I experienced from a roller skating accident. So I don't remember the conversion of theatre to a skating rink. Across 9 Mile Road from the theatre was the Motor City Jewelers. That store had a monopoly on the class ring business. I still have mine as a mid '60s graduate of Lincoln HS. After graduation I attended WSU, did a stint in Viet-Nam and then completed graduate work in Molecular Biology. Although I made my home in Canada I return on occasion to see how my old neighborhood has changed. Although much is different but enough remains to help me locate various landmarks from my younger years.
6/9/2007 - Neil Hammack
I remember as a young lad when this theater was built. Also saw it demo"d. The last movie I viewed was African Queen. I remember because there was a small fire up front near the screen. Nothing serious, and we did not have to exit Anyone remember Big Boys just south of 9 mile? Went there many times after school at Lincoln H.S.
7/12/2006 - Gene Whisnant
Starting in 1960 thru 1962, I worked as doorman at the Oakdale theatre in Hazel Park, & because the Motor city, Ryan, & Oakdale theatres were all managed by Schultes theatres co. the district manager who came by every tuesday night to check all of the theatres out, would ocassionaly bring us free passes to the two theatres The Ryan & Motor city. I can remember on two ocassions he also gave us all free passes to go to the Fox theatre. I cannot remember his name, but he drove a beautiful black 1958 Buick hard top, that was always shined & polished.
12/2/2003 - Ross Quinlan
Motor City Theater was not on Nine Mile Road, it was located on the N/W side of Van Dyke, 1/2 half block North of Nine Mile, its address was not a 9 mile address. It had a Van Dyke address, and even if it was on Nine Mile its address couldn't possibly have been 8120, it would have been a 7000 number..I worked in the Warren Post Office across the street for 20 years..so I know those street numbers...I would say the address was probably 23045 or something close to that. That Burger King now sits on the site of a Pharmacy and Motor City was just North of it. I cant remember the name of that Pharmacy.
2/11/2003 - Cinema Tour
The Motor City Theatre in Warren was eventually converted into the Motor City Roller Rink, which also hosted punk and rock bands until its demolition in the mid-1980s. A Burger King now stands in its place.
 Photos:19
Motor City Theatre - COURTESY AL JOHNSON
COURTESY AL JOHNSON
Motor City Theatre - COURTESY AL JOHNSON
COURTESY AL JOHNSON
Motor City Theatre - GREAT SHOT FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
GREAT SHOT FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
Motor City Theatre - GREAT SHOT FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
GREAT SHOT FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
Motor City Theatre - NEWS ARTICLE FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
NEWS ARTICLE FROM ANTHONY J GUARNIERI
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE STEELWORK - AL JOHNSON 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE STEELWORK - AL JOHNSON 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE AUDITORIUM SCOUNCES PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE AUDITORIUM SCOUNCES PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE EXTERIOR PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE EXTERIOR PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE STREET VIEW - AL JOHNSON 1940
MOTOR CITY THEATRE STREET VIEW - AL JOHNSON 1940
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE PROMO PHOTO INFO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE PROMO PHOTO INFO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE SCREEN VIEW OF AUDITORIUM PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE SCREEN VIEW OF AUDITORIUM PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATRE FACADE CONSTRUCTION - AL JOHNSON JULY 8 1939
MOTOR CITY THEATRE FACADE CONSTRUCTION - AL JOHNSON JULY 8 1939
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATER LOBBY MURALS PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG
MOTOR CITY THEATER LOBBY MURALS PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG
Motor City Theatre - MOTOR CITY THEATER LOBBY PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG
MOTOR CITY THEATER LOBBY PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG
Motor City Theatre - THEATRE AUDITORIUM PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
THEATRE AUDITORIUM PROMO PHOTO OL TAYLOR COMMERCIAL PHOTOG 1939
Motor City Theatre - OLD AD FROM 1980 AS MUSIC VENUE
OLD AD FROM 1980 AS MUSIC VENUE
Motor City Theatre - OLD AD FROM 1980 AS MUSIC VENUE
OLD AD FROM 1980 AS MUSIC VENUE
Motor City Theatre - 1973 ARTICLE ON ROLLER RINK
1973 ARTICLE ON ROLLER RINK
Motor City Theatre - JUNE 2004 RETROSPECTIVE ARTICLE ON ROLLER RINK
JUNE 2004 RETROSPECTIVE ARTICLE ON ROLLER RINK
WaterWinterWonderland.com © 2022 Over 60,700,915 Served