Michigan

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.

The Abandoned St Agnes Church by Adam Jacobs

Continuing my Abandoned Spaces series, I recently visited St Agnes, a gothic and majestic church just outside downtown Detroit which has been abandoned since late 2006. 

Following its completion in the 1920s, the church quickly grew and by the mid fifties was the focal point of a thriving community serving approximately 1,600 families, three priests, 22 nuns and an adjacent girl's high schools with just under two hundred students. 

However, by the mid 1980s the LaSalle neighbourhood in which it sits, had become run down and dilapidated leaving the church with only 160 families worshiping at the space. Although a number of cost cutting measures were made to try and save the church, it was soon deemed impractical to keep it open and it was forced to close in 2006. Coincidentally, St Agnes once so splendid and grand, even hosted a sermon by Mother Theresa in the 1980s where she spoke to thousands; she even insisted that all food provided at the event be given to the poor.

As with so many of Detroit's ornate buildings since closing, scrappers have colonized the space removing all the valuable piping from the organ whilst precious glazed tiling from walls and pillars has been stripped away. On entering, I also noticed that weather and further vandalism has ripped away much of the facade as the floor literally crumbled under foot as I carefully explored the space with my cameras. As with all abandoned churches, it is somewhat creepy and a little eery to see places of worship in such a sad and sorry state.  

I hope my photographs do the space justify. I certainly feel that they are a worthwhile addition to my ongoing series which I hope to exhibit soon. 

The Entrance to St Agnes Church through the main double doors which are now padlocked shut. 

A view of the inside of St Agnes Church, Detroit where one can clearly see where the floor has broken up and valuable tiling stripped from the walls and pillars by scrappers. 

One solitary church pew remains in the abandoned St Agnes Church in Detroit, Michigan. 

I think this guy was a character from the Adams family; his face was tagged all over the abandoned church. 

A better view of the destruction and warping of the pillars inside the abandoned St Agnes Church, Detroit. Michigan. 

I love the way the light streamed through the huge church window which would have formerly been stained glass, illuminating the church pew. 

The stairs leading up/down to the balcony. 

A view from the balcony of the abandoned St Agnes Church in Detroit, Michigan showing the extent of the damage to the space. 

CS Mott Children's Hospital Installation by Adam Jacobs

I just visited a photograph that I donated to the CS Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The photo is located on the cancer ward which, is one of the most advanced in the States and is placed in a recreational area where kids can play mini hockey, football and other games with a stadium crowd as a backdrop. This hopefully provides patients with a little bit of distraction from their treatment and makes their time at the hospital a little easier. I hadn't had a chance to see the plaque and photo/space being used having not been in Michigan for a while. It was therefore extremely rewarding to see the area being used by patients for their benefit.

Staircase to Where? by Adam Jacobs

I've decided to make an effort to try and begin blogging some of my favourite shots from personal projects amidst the hustle and bustle of my commercial work. The first photo is taken in Detroit, Michigan back in 2013 of an old staircase leading to nowhere in particular. This makes up part of my ongoing series on Abandoned Spaces. The second two are from the same series but, shot in a different location (a derelict electrical factory). They were taken in the middle of a relentless Winter during one of many snow storms which only added to the silent, eeriness of the location. 

   I am hoping to showcase much of this work in an exhibition later in the year.

 

I am hoping to showcase much of this work in an exhibition later in the year.