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The Redford Theatre was opened by the Kunsky Theatres chain on 27th January 1928 and was originally called the Kunsky-Redford Theatre. The opening feature was The Gay Defender (1927) starring Richard Dix.
Architects Verner, Wilhelm and Molby designed the auditorium in an Atmospheric style with an outdoor Japanese garden theme, “the walls picturesque with odd shaped roofs and spires of Japanese landscape and trees”.
The original seating capacity was 2,051; it is now 1,581. The theatre was built with a full stage and orchestra pit, and is still equipped with its original Barton 3-manual, 10-rank theatre organ, the console of which is decorated with gold and black painted themed motifs.
In 1931 the theatre was purchased by the Goldberg family – Irving and Adolph Goldberg – as part of their Community Theatres circuit.
According to Wikipedia , during World War II, many of the original Japanese-style decorations, including the lobby chandeliers, were covered up or removed as part of a broader trend of anti-Japanese sentiment.
The Redford Theatre closed on 3rd November 1974 with the last showing of The Day of the Dolphin (1973) . The Motor City chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (MCTOS) then took over operation of the theatre before purchasing the building in 1977. Since that time the all-volunteer staff has run it as a classic films/rental/stage show/organ concert venue. MCTOS have also been working for many years to recreate what was lost of the original Japanese-style decorations previously altered or removed during World War II.
In recent years the theatre has gained a computerized light board and new, but historically accurate, seating. Restoration continues as funds and time permit. The theatre’s classic film series shows a different film every other weekend, plus music played on the Barton organ.
The Redford Theatre is the only known extant Atmospheric theatre with a Japanese theme.
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