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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...



This brick and stucco theater was built in 1916 by Beecher, Boshoven, and Willer, and for several years was simply called Beecher's, as were several others of the same chain. The theater was first listed as the Liberty in the city directory of 1919. It lost 17' of its ample lobby in the Division Avenue widening in 1931, and after that was 58' x 136' on a lot 58.58' x 184'. At the rear of the lot was a 10' wide strip running 200' to Sheldon Avenue. The building was of brick construction, with a tar and gravel roof. It had oil heat, as well as a coal-stoker with steam. There were two lavatories. The building was in good repair when listed for sale for $35,000 in 1954, and the assessed valuation was $19,250. The Liberty seated 614, and had the second longest projection in Grand Rapids (110') after the Regent. It was used as a church for a few years after closing as a theater in the mid-1950's. Fire gutted the building at about 4:15 a.m., Friday, April 14, 1961, with a loss of $25,000. It was thought that vagrants who had been using the building for shelter might have started a fire inside to keep warm. The roof was burned off and the interior ruined throughout. The building was demolished on Monday, July 23, 1962, and the site became a second used car lot for DeBraaf Motor Sales, which had been established across the street in 1947. The pipe organ from the theater is now in the home of Jim Fles of Spring Lake, who built a 24' x 24' addition onto his house to accommodate it. (GRP 03/11/2001 J1 & 4.)

Full Details

Address1028 Division AVE S 49507. 3-2128 (1945)
CreatorFather Dennis Morrow
Also Known AsBeecher's
Locationlocation on map

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