Brazen scrappers destroy roof of abandoned Eastown Theatre in Detroit

Eastown Theatre: July 2014 (left), October 2012. Photos by Steve Neavling
Eastown Theatre: June 2014 (left), October 2012 (right). Photos by Steve Neavling

The ornamental, dome ceiling on the long-abandoned Eastown Theatre in Detroit has collapsed as scrappers continue to remove steel beams from the historic movie palace at Harper and Van Dyke.

Scrappers have been scavenging steel from the roof of the 2,500-seat theater at Harper and Van Dyke since at least February, ending whatever tiny hope remained of saving the long-neglected building.

The theater opened as a movie palace in October 1931 in a stable east-side neighborhoods. In 1969, the Eastown became a rock venue and attracted the Kinks, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Yes, Fleetwood Mac, Steppenwolf, King Crimson, MC5 and the Stooges, according to our friends at

The aging building hosted raves until the late 1990s.

The theater, which has been heavily scavenged, is surrounded by blight. Vacant homes and storefronts dominate the area. Crime is persistent.

It’s only a matter of time before the theater is demolished.

RELATED: 9 ways scrappers are destroying Detroit.

Eastown theatre old

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March 2014. By Steve Neavling
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March 2014. By Steve Neavling

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June 2014. By Steve Neavling
October 2012. By Steve Neavling
October 2012. By Steve Neavling
June 2014. By Steve Neavling
June 2014. By Steve Neavling
June 2014. By Steve Neavling
June 2014. By Steve Neavling


Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Gunnut2600

    Eh…what do white people expect when they abandon shit?

  • TaxiManSteve

    Sad to watch the slo mo destruction of Detroit. Maybe we should just deed it back to the indigenous peoples… ?

  • Dust Buster


    • Gary


  • Gwenn

    China isn’t destroying your landmarks, YOU are by not treasuring them.

  • A.L. Cadillac

    Clearly, the Republican’s “anti-scrapping” law has had an immediate impact.

  • Gary

    This has happened dozens and dozens of times in Detroit, verbatim.

  • Billy Blake

    Here are just a few headlines for this story
    1. China Pays Big Bucks For Scrappers to Destroy Abandoned Eastown Theater. 2 China Destroying America Without Dropping One Bomb.3 China Creates Scraping Work For Americans. Now I can think of more but I hope you get the picture. When all the jobs went to China this is all that is left.

    • Is this satire?

      • Joe

        Is this ignorance?

        • Of course it is, I’m asking for clarification.

          • Roger Wade

            What’s google?
            Where am I?

      • Billy Blake

        I thought that everyone knew who is setting the price and buying up all the scrap metal they can get their hands on.