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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Regent Theater

Regent Theater

GRHC - April 21st, 2010

Glance at the Past celebrates the history of a prominent local landmark, the Regent Theatre.



The replacement of historic landmarks with new buildings seems to be a recurring process. The construction of the Regent Theater, planned for the corner of Crescent St. and Bond Ave. in 1919, resulted in the passing of two historic landmarks. The William A. Berkey homestead where a pioneer of the furniture industry lived while he was building up the business, and at the rear was the barn where he kept his horses. When the city purchased its first fire engine, a horse-drawn vehicle, they did not have a stable of horses large enough to draw the engine. Mr. Berkey always volunteered the use of his animals.

The Regent Theater, designed by C.H.Crowe of Detroit, a nationally known theater architect, could seat 1800 people. The interior was decorated in a combination of turquoise, gold, ivory and rose, and the main curtain was of burnt orange velvet. The white marble lobby had a beautiful stairway leading to a mezzanine lounge designed especially for the comfort of women patrons.

The $30,000 pipe organ, a theater organ with three manual keyboards, 76 stops, and 16 combination pistons, was built especially for the Regent by the Robert Morton Organ Company of California.

Changes in plans and the restructuring of financing kept postponing the completion of the theater. It finally opened August 10, 1923 and for many years was one of the gems of downtown theaters. Few remembered that the humble Berkey homestead originally occupied the site.

Full Details

TitleRegent Theater
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, Regent, theater, WYCE, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringApril 21st, 2010

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