Latin Quarter Theater

The Duplex Theater, later known as the Oriole Terrace, Latin Quarter, and Grand Quarter, was originally built as a first-run movie house by the Boulevard Theater Company of Detroit. Plans for the unnamed theater were completed in August of 1914. It featured two screens, but for an usual purpose. As noted in the Detroit Free Press:

"Its architect, Fuller Claflin, of New York, Chicago, and Detroit, theater specialists, who has designed several Detroit theaters, announces that the new photo-playhouse is to be built as a 'duplex theater,' eliminating an objectionable element in motion picture exhibitions by affording those who arrive after a long photo-play has started an opportunity of viewing several shorter picture plays until the long one starts again. In other theaters those entering late may be annoyed by seeing the last part of the important play before they get to see the first part."

Detroit was one of the first cities in the country to have a duplex theater. The layout of the theaters was such that both faced inwards, watching a film projected onto the rear wall of the opposite auditorium through a glass partition, with both projectors located in the center. This arrangement was primarily to allow the house orchestra to quickly move from one theater to another. The end of the silent film era made the design obsolete, and it quickly fell out of favor.

Construction on the Duplex Theater, as it was named, began in March of 1915. The facade of white glazed terracotta had two arches, one for each theater. Each theater had seating for 750, for a combined capacity of 1,500.

The grand opening of the Duplex Theater was on December 15th, 1915 with a showing of "The Turn of the Road," a film by Tefft Johnson.

Despite a sold-out opening run, the theater faced stiff competition from other nearby venues, and by 1917 it had been taken over by its architect, Fuller Claflin. The Boulevard Theater Company went bankrupt in April of 1919, with debts of $141,000 dollars and stated assets of just $2 dollars.

In May of 1922, it was announced that the Duplex Theater would be dismantled and replaced with a ballroom designed by C. Howard Crane. Though the facade remained, the rest of the structure was replaced with a traditional stage setup, and renamed the Oriole Terrace ballroom. It opened on October 18th, featuring the popular Oriole Terrace Orchestra playing jazz music.

At some point it was renamed the Grand Terrace, and was badly damaged by a fire in 1940. After being repaired, the ballroom was renamed the Latin Quarter, a name it would keep for the next 50 years.

The Latin Quarter would host some of the biggest music acts of the times, including Stevie Wonder, Etta James, Bob Seger, James Brown, The Temptations, Ray Charles, Al Green, The Four Tops, and B.B. King. By the 1980's bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Violent Femmes, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Sonic Youth, Jane's Addiction, Nine Inch Nails, and GWAR were headlining shows. The Latin Quarter appears to have folded in 1991; it later reopened as the Grand Quarters for a brief time in the 1990's, and was then vacated.

Plans to demolish the theater were announced in 2008, but the building sat vacant until late December of 2011, when it was finally torn down.