Detroit's East Town Theatre / by Adam Jacobs

Continuing my personal project documenting "Abandoned Spaces" across the mid-West of America, I recently explored an intriguing urban relic; a cinema turned rock 'n' roll venue that has hosted legends included Alice Cooper, The Doors, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull on the East side of Detroit. 

Indeed, this once grand theatre when opened in 1930 housed 2,500 seats and was originally intended to be the major cinema on the East side of the motor city. However, within thirty years it quickly evolved to become the city's premier destination for rock n' roll during with the roll call of acts who graced he stage listing like a whose who of every great American rock act of the sixties. In fact, Alice Cooper later quoted that the Eastown was "the best audience in the world. Any other city, people went home from work to put their Levis and black leather jackets for a concert. In Detroit, they came from work like that. The Easttown - those were pure rock 'n' roll times"

However, the venue was was forced to close in in 1973 due to health and safety reasons with drugs and crime being a major issue. Throughout the next two decades, the theatre re-opened under various guises with relative success: a jazz venue, adult movie theatre and even a church. Eventually, the site was completely abandoned in 2009 when no buyer was found for it and the curtain was closed on the Eastown theatre forever. 

Indeed, unfortunately by the time I went to photograph it the once opulent roof with its decadent bright dome (see below photo) had completely fallen in leaving just the stage, facade and back of the theatre remaining. Being in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit, I went with a number of friends and was careful when navigating amongst the hazardous conditions; out of the many abandoned buildings I have explored this was in one of the worst states I've seen which, was sad to see especially after seeing some photos of it in its heyday. 

 Copywrite of this image Mike Boening 2013

Copywrite of this image Mike Boening 2013

However, I still managed to get some nice shots of the stage and with a bit of clambering around got all the way to the top where I found just a few remaining seats that provided some nice angles and perspectives. It was also interesting to find some old programmes hidden beneath the rubble providing me with an insight to productions that had played at the theatre. 

 The formerly opulent entrance to the Eastown Theatre now nothing more than decrepit steps and peeling walls. Despite being so sad I couldn't help but think that this interior would make an awesome location for a fashion shoot.

The formerly opulent entrance to the Eastown Theatre now nothing more than decrepit steps and peeling walls. Despite being so sad I couldn't help but think that this interior would make an awesome location for a fashion shoot.

 An alternative view of the entrance.

An alternative view of the entrance.

 Behind the scenes of me shooting the abandoned entrance way.

Behind the scenes of me shooting the abandoned entrance way.

 The remains of the stage with the rubble of the recently fallen in roof.

The remains of the stage with the rubble of the recently fallen in roof.

 A flyer I found amongst the rubble advertising a play held at the venue in 1986.

A flyer I found amongst the rubble advertising a play held at the venue in 1986.

 This is perhaps one of my favourite picture of the space as I managed to find some of the old benches hidden amongst the mangled rubble and get a nice perspective of them framed with the stage and steps in the background.

This is perhaps one of my favourite picture of the space as I managed to find some of the old benches hidden amongst the mangled rubble and get a nice perspective of them framed with the stage and steps in the background.

 Twisted Wires catching the morning sun.

Twisted Wires catching the morning sun.

 The remains of an old curtain in the foreground leading into the main seating area of the theatre.

The remains of an old curtain in the foreground leading into the main seating area of the theatre.

 The view from right up top where you can see the extent of the damage caused by the collapse of the roof.

The view from right up top where you can see the extent of the damage caused by the collapse of the roof.

 Last Seats: In this photo you can clearly see the last few seats left in the theatre right up on the top tier and how both the roof and one whole side of the theatre has completely collapsed.

Last Seats: In this photo you can clearly see the last few seats left in the theatre right up on the top tier and how both the roof and one whole side of the theatre has completely collapsed.