Dismantling the Main Art Theater, Royal Oak–Removing the marquee, and gutting the interior

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The Main Art Theater, Royal Oak, MI, is being dismantled. Shortly it will be torn down. And when it has, the only thing that will remain of a theater that provided hours of entertainment will be memories. Progress could not be slowed, despite grass root efforts to preserve this historic theater.

Starting with removing the Main sign, which will become part of the four-story multi-use structure to be built in the space now occupied by the theater,  the building supervisor opened what remained of the Main Art for salvage and closure.

Some items went home with Friends of the Main Art, and some will be stored for a future home for art films.

And some more will appear in public at Planet Ant in Hamtramck.

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About the Main Art Theater, Royal Oak
The Main Art Theater was a movie theater located at 118 North Main Street in Royal Oak, Michigan, at the corner of Main Street and 11 Mile Road in downtown Royal Oak.

Opened on August 7, 1941, by Robert Anthony, the theater was originally a single-screen theater with 800 seats. In 1983, the original 800-seat theater was split into two theaters during renovations, and a third theater was added to the building in 1993.

In 1997, Landmark Theatres took over the Main Art and operated it until its closure. In the Summer of 1999, the Main Art was one of 15 theaters in North America showing The Blair Witch Project, and every show on the schedule was sold out, with people coming from as far away as Indiana and upstate New York to see the movie.

Aside from independent films, the Main Art specialized in midnight showings of classic films from the early 20th century to the present day, such as The Goonies, as well as cult films like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Main Art temporarily closed its doors in March 2020 before reopening on Christmas Day later that year. In April 2021, the Main Art temporarily closed again due to financial constraints.

On June 12, 2021, the Main Art Theater closed down permanently when Landmark Theatres ended its building lease and returned the property to A.F. Jonna Management & Development. Immediately after its closure, a nonprofit group called Friends of Main Art Theater formed to preserve the historic building; the group’s goal, according to the site description, “is to foster and develop public appreciation of independent film and the arts, and to preserve the Royal Oak Main Art building as a movie theater for the enjoyment of the greater Metro Detroit community.”

In May 2022, the Royal Oak City Council voted to allow A.F. Jonna Management & Development to demolish the Main Art Theater and construct a multi-use apartment complex on the theater site.

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