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Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts (Michigan Theater)

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Michigan Theater
1929–1930, C. Howard Crane; 1998 restoration, Edward Francis of William Kessler and Associates. 407 W. Western Ave.
  • (Photograph by Roger Funk)

Paul Shlossman of Muskegon, owner of the Rialto, Majestic, and Regent theaters in Muskegon designed by Crane, called on the architect to create a movie palace in a Moorish or “Spanish Renaissance” design. The Michigan Theater was built of concrete blocks and decorated with terra-cotta panels. In keeping with the theme, the theater displayed ornate carvings, arches, and intricate plasterwork, and was filled with decorative gold highlights, cherubs, and griffins. Ornamental light fixtures, carpet, velour-covered chairs, and red stage draperies finished the interior.

The Michigan Theater closed in the 1970s but was rescued in 1976 by A. Harold Frauenthal, a local industrialist, who provided funds for the Muskegon County Community Foundation to purchase the block on which the theater stands and to operate it with symphony performances, movies, travelogues, and other events. In 1992, the community foundation funded the preparation of a master preservation plan. Muskegon County voters approved a bond issue, and restoration work began in 1998. Today, as Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts, the old theater is restored to its original richly colored grandeur and improved with state-of-the art lighting, sound, and rigging. A new two-level lobby connects the foyer of the old theater with the lobby of the Hilt Building. A restaurant is on the lower level.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


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Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts (Michigan Theater)", [Muskegon, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 386-386.

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