Historic Structures

Commercial Building at 100 Monroe Ave Detroit Michigan

Date added: October 31, 2013 Categories: Michigan Commercial Italianate

Originally built as the Star Theater in 1907, this building served as the home of the Theatre Royale and the Royal Theater between 1905 and 1922. This was one of first theaters to open in Detroit's Monroe Avenue theater district and enjoyed the benefits of a prominent corner location in one of Detroit's busiest commercial districts.

The structure is four stories tall, plus basement. It is rectangular in layout and measures 20 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The most prominent feature on the Monroe elevation is the grouping of large windows that fill the facade at the third and fourth stories and are topped by a segments! arch. In addition to a single stone sill, the windows are outlined by courses of raised brick. Seven rectangular windows per story appear above the first story on the Farmer facade, and three per story on the rear of the building. Six of the seven second story windows on the Farmer facade were added in 1922 when the second story was converted from theater use into commercial space. Some of the wide variety of windows on this building are slightly arched at the top, while most of them have slightly proecting stone sills. Raised brick is used to create piers in the rear third of the building and corbelling immediately beneath the roofline on Farmer and at the rear of the structure. A wrought-iron fire escape extends from the first story to the roof on the Farmer elevation.

The building housed the Star Theater in 1907, followed by the Theatre Royale in 1908-1911, and then the Royal Theater from 1912 until its closing m 1922. The rear third of the building housed a tailor shop and a bootblack during the 1910s, while a clothing factory occupied the third and fourth floors. From the 1920s through the late 1970s, a variety of retail businesses operated from the storefronts on Monroe and Farmer, including a cigar store, jewelers, shoe stores, a tailor, and a barber shop. The tenants on the upper stories cannot be identified.

The Monroe elevation once had a plain widely-overhanging cornice supported by two scrolled brackets, as well as a decorative arch adorned with garland festoons and shields above the theater entrance on Monroe. The Farmer elevation once had window crowns consisting of semi-circular hoods decorated with scroll motifs, and toward the rear of the building, with small triangular pediments on the roof above the windows. A steel-framed canopy with glass skylights covered the entire sidewalk along on the Farmer elevation. This served as a waiting area for patrons of the Liberty Theater, located in the next block east on Farmer.

The yellow-colored brick veneer applied over common red brick walls was in place by 1917 and was probably part of the original construction of 1907, since the only building permit issued for this structure between 1907 and 1921 related to lobby alterations made in 1914. There have been no additions to the original building, but major alterations were made in 1922, when the Royal Theater, which had occupied the first two stories, was converted into retail stores with entrances from both the Monroe and Farmer frontages. The second floor, which originally existed only in the rear third of the building to accommodate the theater space, was extended the full length of the building. A series of windows on the second story facing Farmer was added at that time as well. Since then, the storefronts on Monroe and Farmer have undergone dozens of minor changes. The canopy along Farmer was removed sometime after 1922.

Commercial Building at 100 Monroe Ave Detroit Michigan VIEW EAST, NORTHWEST FRONT AND SOUTHWEST SIDE 1917
VIEW EAST, NORTHWEST FRONT AND SOUTHWEST SIDE 1917