Great Grand Rapids Memories of Old Neighborhood Movie Theaters
Here is a fun trip down Grand Rapids memory lane of old movie houses.
Back in the day, as they say, if you wanted to go to a movie in Grand Rapids you had your pick because there was probably a theatre in your neighborhood. There weren't any multiple screen megaplexes as we have today. Of course there were the big movie houses downtown, but there was always a neighborhood theater and you could walk to if you lived around it. You pretty much had everything close by, grocery, dry cleaners, shoes, clothing, and of course a movie theater.
Does anyone remember The Fulton Theatre on West Fulton?
It opened around 1912 with a whopping 486 seats. Okay, it wasn't big, but it was a great neighborhood movie house. Sadly It closed in 1955 to be torn down and now it's the Rapid's Laker Line Bus Stop and a parking lot.
How about the Eastown Theatre? In 1936 it was one of the first air-conditioned movie houses in Grand Rapids.
It's heyday was from the 30s through the 50s, but by the 50s the Eastown had become a B-movie and second-run film house. The original Eastown Theatre closed in 1975. Then in the early 1980s it became the Eastown Bijou Theatre, but in the mid-80s, the Eastown Bijou finally closed it doors. Around 1988 it was reopened as the 50's themed Shout night club, but that business failed within a few years. I remember going there and dancing my head off, but that's another story for another time!
So now, the building serves as the church for the Uptown Assembly of God.
And of course, on South Division there was the 4-Star Theatre a great movie house in it's day.
Built in 1938, it served the Burton Heights neighborhood well as a classy movie house. But time moves on and the theater changed to serve as a concert venue, auditorium, community/youth center and church before closing more than a decade ago.
Today, the 4-Star is changing for the good. Marcus Ringnalda bought the building in 2017 and thinks the Four Star can reprise its role in Burton Heights as a community arts center and events venue.
I'm sure there were other neighborhood movie houses that I'm missing, but those were the good old times where you could literally walk to the theatre and enjoy a wonderful night at the movies!
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