Designed by leading Detroit architect George D. Mason in 1927, the 450-seat Gem Theatre boasts a lavish, intricately painted ceiling, ornate proscenium panels, rich carpet, and 1920s lighting. The theatre was built by the Twentieth Century Club, a group of cultural and civic-minded women of social prominence, to adjoin the Century Club building, a Mission-style meeting facility constructed in 1903. Prior to the Depression, the “Little Theatre” served as Detroit’s first foreign film house, and survived several name changes before closing as an adult movie house, the “Gem,” in 1978. Detroit developer Charles Forbes purchased the building in the 1980s, and by 1991, had returned the Gem Theatre to its Spanish Revival-style brilliance. In 1997, the Gem Theatre was faced with extinction in view of the City of Detroit’s plan to construct new stadiums for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions. Upon reaching an agreement with the city, the Forbes family began preparations to relocate the Gem/Century building and preserve this historic structure for a second time. On November 10, 1997, the Gem Theatre and Century Club facility finished its five-block journey, breaking the Guinness Book world record as the heaviest building ever moved on wheels. The Century Club, restored in 1999, now houses a 200-seat cabaret-style theatre, as well as a fine-dining restaurant and banquet facility. Don’t miss the world-class musical and comedic productions in this intimate, elegant venue.
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