Once one of Detroit’s great neighborhood theaters…now a den of decay.
The Eastown opened in 1930 as a movie house, although it did have a small stage and would occasionally host stage shows during its early years. The theater featured an auditorium with a large balcony, seating just shy of 2,500 patrons. In the mid 1960’s the Eastown closed as a movie house and embarked on an adventure that would name them to be one of Detroit’s premiere rock venues. Between 1969 and 1973, the Eastown would host a number of famous acts, a virtual who’s-who of the current rock and roll era, performers such as the Grateful Dead, Alice Cooper, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Bob Seger, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull just to name a few.
From 1973 to 1990 the Eastown would go through many changes eventually ending in its demise and sordid reputation. In 1973 the city of Detroit forced the theater to close after failing to meet numerous health and safety codes. In 1975, it reopened as a jazz venue, but only remained open for 1 year. For a short time after, it was used for performing arts and live theater, but again closed down. In 1980, under the name “The Showcase”, the Eastown began to show adult films, but closed again in 1984. From 1984 to 1990, the Eastown was once again home to a performing arts group. During the mid-90s, the Eastown hosted raves and later housed a church. Abandoned since the mid-late 1990’s, today the building is unused and falling apart rapidly.
A few weeks before our visit, the roof of the upper balcony completely collapsed, exposing the sky above and subjecting the remnants of the building to the elements.