The phrase may be old and tired, but in the case of the former Lansing, Michigan, The Strand Theater and Arcade (eventually named the Michigan Theater, more on that later), they DO NOT build them like they used to.

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It was built over a century ago, and though just a shell of its former 1920s self, the former Strand remains home to artists, dreamers, and drama. We'll closely examine what the building looks like today, but first, a bit of history.

The Grand Debut of Lansing's the Strand Theater and Arcade

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Located at 215 Washington Square in the heart of Lansing's former Theater District, the theater was built under the guidance of Walter S. Butterfield and named the Strand Theater and Arcade. It opened to the public on April 21, 1921. With an impressive 2,000-seat capacity, it was known as one of the finest vaudeville stages in Michigan. The stage was graced by huge names at the time, including Harry Houdini and Al Jolson.

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Designed by the esteemed architect John Eberson, the interior French-themed decor was said to have oozed opulence.

The Strand Theater Was Once a Hub of Activity for Lansing

Capital Area District Library
Capital Area District Library

Beyond the theater, The Strand grew and evolved as the public's tastes changed. There was an arcade that bustled with life, a ballroom filled with music, and 14 shops, like the Cinderella Tea Shop or the Palace of Sweets Candy Shop. By 1941, it was time for a renovation, and once the dust cleared, the Strand Theater and Arcade transformed into the Michigan Theater.

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However, as the years rolled by, the allure of downtown theaters faded, and multi-screen theaters became the new trend. By 1980, the final curtain closed, marking the end of an era. But, the show must go on. Let's see how the remaining space is being used today.

Hidden Gems of Downtown Lansing: The Strand - Michigan Theater

The Atrium Office Center at 215 Washington Square in downtown Lansing, Michigan, was once the home of the Strand Theater and Arcade, which eventually became the Michigan Theater. See what remains of the classic French design as we explore the space once occupied by Harry Houdini and Al Jolson. Here's how Lansing's The Strand / Michigan Theater looks today.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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