Photos: Demolition begins on legendary, crumbling Eastown Theatre

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A large claw poked through the stage today of the Eastown Theatre, the once-elegant movie palace and rock venue that crumbled from years of neglect and scrapping.

The city hired a demolition company, Adamo, to tear down the deteriorating building at Van Dyke and Harper, where a strong blue-collar neighborhood began a precipitous decline in the late 1960s and 1970s.

That’s when the stage was graced by The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Cream, Yes, Grand Funk Railroad, Steppenwolf, King Crimson and MC5.

The ornate theater, which opened in 1930, is the last surviving neighborhood movie palace in Detroit, according to HistoricDetroit.org. 

Demolition began last week on an adjacent apartment building that had collapsed from a fire.

Today marked the first day that crews began demolishing the theater.

Demolition is expected to continue Tuesday.

Join us on Periscope for live video of the demolition this week.

All photos by Steve Neavling.

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Eastown Theatre in July 2014.
Eastown Theatre before the roof was destroyed by scrappers.
National Theatre in 2014 after scrappers began ripping apart the roof.
National Theatre in 2014 after scrappers began ripping apart the roof.
A deteriorating corridor in June 2014.
A deteriorating corridor in June 2014.

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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.

  • Blue Crow

    Thank You, Steve, For taking the time to record this somewhat sad event, but time moves on. And, so many of the ‘hot’ chicks that I might have once met at that venue so as to ‘Kick Out The Jams’ (whatever that meant) would certainly be old enough to be grandmothers or even great-grandmothers by now. Indeed, might someone please tell how nearly a whole half century could possibly go by so very fast?

  • Harold Patterson

    This is a shame. I saw many concerts there, some I actually remember.