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Ironwood Theatre Center for the Performing Arts

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1924–1925 Seaman Block and 1927–1928 Ironwood Theatre, N. Albert Nelson; 1986–2010 restoration. 109 E. Aurora St.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

Built when Ironwood was the hub of Michigan-Wisconsin iron ore mining, the Ironwood Theatre was a regional status symbol. It was also a major achievement for local architect Nelson and for his client Charles Seaman, a businessman and civic leader. The Ironwood Theatre sat 1,200 patrons on opening day, June 30, 1928, making it the largest movie palace of the golden age of the movie palace (1925–1930) in the Upper Peninsula.

No single architectural or decorative style dominates the building. Rather, it is modern with an eclectic blend of historic elements. The Moorish scheme in the foyer and promenade was a standard stylistic formula for exoticism in national movie palace design. The facade of the Ironwood Theatre is part of the Seaman Building. The bronze marquee, a neon sign, and stained glass windows in the transom behind the marquee distinguish the theater from the block. The theater is a conservative design in comparison with other movie palace facades of the era. Restoration is substantially complete.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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