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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...



1981 owner M/M Charles Davis, 333 Hall S.E. 49507. This is a tile and cement block theater, built in 1936 and opened November 19, 1936, with the first feature, My American Wife. It was built and owned by local grocery chain magnate Clarence Thomas, whose mansion at 2001 Robinson Road, S.E., later served as Christopher House, a seminary residence for the Catholic diocese, and as one of the halls of Aquinas College. It was operated by B & J theatres, Edward C. Beatty (the Butterfield vice president) and Allen Johnson. The latter was a son-in-law of Joseph Poisson. The Butterfield chain was owned by Paramount, but it is not certain whether the Eastown was actually a part of Butterfield. Details about the theater, as well as biographical sketches of Beatty and Johnson, appeared on page 22 of the Grand Rapids Press on November 19, 1936, the theater's opening day. B & J boasted of having the first air-conditioned movie houses in Grand Rapids. Gas and steam heat. Concrete floor. Building size 80' x 117' irregular. Assessed valuation $53,300. In good condition when listed for sale in 1981 at $149,000. Seating capacity was 925-1,000. 20' ceiling. 9,073 square feet. Two separate toilet and lavatory facilities. Land: 24,188 square feet, including one lot east of building and an extra off-street 90' x 100' lot fronting on Atlas Avenue. John A. Otterbacher broke into the theater management business at the Eastown when it opened in the 1930's, and in the 1970's it was the last theater he operated. About 1988 it was reopened as the Shout night club, but that business failed within a few years. The building now serves as the church for the Uptown Assembly of God. (Source: Doyle & Davis.)

Full Details

Address1470 Lake DR SE 49506. 8-5218 (1945)
CreatorFather Dennis Morrow

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