August 2010 update: The Eastown partially burned down on August 9th, 2010. Details here.
The Eastown was one of Detroit's great neighborhood theaters. It opened originally in 1930 for the Wisper & Westman circuit. It was mainly a movie house, though it did have a small stage and did occaisionally host stage shows as well in its early years.
Its decor was a mixture of Renaissance Revival styles, including Spanish and Italian with Baroque and neoclassic elements as well. The auditorium, which included a large balcony, originally sat just under 2500. It was designed by the firm of V.J. Waier & Co.
Though the Eastown closed as a movie house during the mid 60s, its second life was just beginning, for which it would be much better known, as one of Detroit's premiere rock venues.
Beginning in 1969, the list of performers on the Eastown's stage reads like a who's-who of rock and roll of that era. Alice Cooper, the Doors, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Seger, Jethro Tull and the Grateful Dead are just a few of the bands who played here between 1969 and 1973.
It was forced to shut down in 1973 by the city of Detroit, cited for failing to meet health and safety codes. In 1975, it reopened as a jazz venue, which remained in operation for about a year. After this, it was used for a short time for performing arts and live theater, but again closed down.
In 1980, the Eastown began to show adult films under a new name, the Showcase, but closed again in 1984. From 1984 until 1990, the Eastown was again home to a performing arts group.
During the mid-90s, the Eastown hosted raves, and later housed a church. Today, the building is unused.
Contributed by Bryan Krefft