WaterWinterWonderland.com
Search: Select Location Type:  
General Info
Home
Latest Info Updates
Advanced Search
Image Search
Site Statistics
About Us
Advertise Here
Support This Site
Contact Us
Press Clippings
Submit New Info
Drive-In Theaters
Drive-Ins by County
Open Drive-Ins
Drive-In History
Latest Drive-In Photos
Out of State Drive-Ins
Digital Restorations
Indoor Theaters
Theaters by County
Latest Theater Photos
Old Theaters
Old Theater Ads
Opera Houses
Movie Palaces
Amusement Parks
Amusement Parks by County
Latest Photos
Fairs
Fun Parks
Motor Speedways
Speedways by County
Latest Speedway Photos
Cars and Drivers
Drag Strips
Dragstrips by County
Latest Drag Strip Photos
John G's Dragstrip Pics
Roadside
Roadside Attractions
Old Tourism Ads
Old Towns
Old Towns / Named Places
Roadside
Tourist Traps
Vintage Signs
Googie Architecture
Gas, Food and Lodging
Restaurants
Gas Stations
Motels
Tourist Cabins
Hotels
Cities and Towns
Schools
Vintage Detroit
Aerial Views
Ghost Towns
Train Depots
Post Offices
Downtown Views
Old Towns
Airports
Ballrooms
Interesting Architecture
Venues
Landmarks
Military
Industrial
Retail
Retail Stores
Old Line Stores
Shopping Centers
Wonderland Mall
Car Dealers
Recreation and Sports
Lakes
Lighthouses
Campgrounds
Beaches
Resorts
Ski Resorts
Bowling Alleys
Golf
Boats
Hydroplane Racing
Ships
Multimedia
Video Clips
Audio Clips
Resources
Links

Latest Information Updates


3/8/2021 - Capitol Theatre - Millington - Andy Gray
The Capitol Theatre on State Road in Millington, was one of at least six theaters with that name in Michigan.

My grandfather's Johnson Construction Company remodeled the Capitol in 1939 or 1940. For our family, the most notable aspect of the Capitol Theatre project is that it was where our mom first met her future husband. Dad was working on the theater when Al Johnson took our fifteen-year-old mom and her younger sister with him on a jobsite visit. The rest, you could say, is "Michigan history.

" Al Johnson's November 1948 color slide shows that an addition, most likely the lobby and concession area, has been built onto the front of the older wood-framed structure. It's not known what additional interior work might have been done to the opera hall/theater at that time..
3/8/2021 - Orr Theatre - Fowlerville - Andy Gray
The Orr Theatre was located at 110 W.

Grand River Avenue in Fowlerville, Michigan. The Cinema Treasures website says: that the theater "..opened in late-1940. The Orr Theater was part of the Schuckert & Stafford chain in the late-1940’s. The former theater and its neighboring building are now home to Fowlerville True Value Hardware." My grandfather Al Johnson's theater job slides include a street view of the Orr Theatre taken in June 1948 (see below).

It shows what appears to be a late 1800's/early 1900's building with a modest entrance and signage. .
3/8/2021 - Keego Theatre - Keego Harbor - Andy Gray
What's the story behind the unusual shallow marquee on the Keego Theatre as seen in the black and white image below? The WaterWinterWonderland explains: "Opened in 1940, the Keego was built in Art Moderne style, with "The Grapes of Wrath" being the first film shown there.

In the 70s, it received a new marquee. The original was removed after being damaged by being struck several times by passing trucks once Orchard Lake Road was widened."In the color photo below, taken by my grandfather Al Johnson in 1948, you can see that the original marquee had already been damaged by passing traffic on Orchard Lake Road. Humphrey Bogart's classic film "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" appears on the marquee.

Two sets of red double doors have full octagonal glass in the upper portion - a unique design not seen in images of any other Johnson-built theaters. The Keego Theatre was built by Johnson Construction Company at 3040 Orchard Lake Road in Keego Harbor, Michigan. It closed in June of 1998 and the building was razed not long afterward. The website continues: "Mr.

Mansour donated many artifacts from the Keego to the West Bloomfield Historical Society prior to it being demolished, including its Streamline-style vertical sign, its letters outlined with neon lighting.".
3/8/2021 - Ideal Theatre - Ithaca - Andy Gray
The Ideal Theatre, at 221 E.

Center Street in Ithaca, Michigan. was a 1938 remodeling project for my grandfather's Johnson Construction Company. A newer bank building and a parking lot now occupy the site where the theater stood. Al Johnson left us with several color images that he took several years after remodeling the theater.

The first is a street view taken in June 1949. A 1948 film "The Dude Goes West" appears on the marquee. He shot the next street view in June 1950 when "Key to the City" was being shown. The last five color slides were taken inside the theater in September 1952.

It's not known who the artist was, but the elaborate pastel murals in these images are very similar to murals in other Johnson theater projects (e.g. Flatroc, Harbor, Rapids and the "new" Hudson).The last slide shows a painting, perhaps by a local artist, showing a farm scene with cows, sheep and two horse-drawn sulkies.

.
3/8/2021 - Ideal Theatre - Ithaca - Andy Gray
The Ideal Theatre, at 221 E.

Center Street in Ithaca, Michigan. was a 1938 remodeling project for my grandfather's Johnson Construction Company. A newer bank building and a parking lot now occupy the site where the theater stood. Al Johnson left us with several color images that he took several years after remodeling the theater.

The first is a street view taken in June 1949. A 1948 film "The Dude Goes West" appears on the marquee. He shot the next street view in June 1950 when "Key to the City" was being shown. The last five color slides were taken inside the theater in September 1952.

It's not known who the artist was, but the elaborate pastel murals in these images are very similar to murals in other Johnson theater projects (e.g. Flatroc, Harbor, Rapids and the "new" Hudson).The last slide shows a painting, perhaps by a local artist, showing a farm scene with cows, sheep and two horse-drawn sulkies.

.
3/8/2021 - Ideal Theatre - Ithaca - Andy Gray
The Ideal Theatre, at 221 E.

Center Street in Ithaca, Michigan. was a 1938 remodeling project for my grandfather's Johnson Construction Company. A newer bank building and a parking lot now occupy the site where the theater stood.Al Johnson left us with several color images that he took several years after remodeling the theater.

The first is a street view taken in June 1949. A 1948 film "The Dude Goes West" appears on the marquee. He shot the next street view in June 1950 when "Key to the City" was being shown.The last five color slides were taken inside the theater in September 1952.

It's not known who the artist was, but the elaborate pastel murals in these images are very similar to murals in other Johnson theater projects (e.g. Flatroc, Harbor, Rapids and the "new" Hudson).The last slide shows a painting, perhaps by a local artist, showing a farm scene with cows, sheep and two horse-drawn sulkies.

.
3/8/2021 - Graystone Theatre - Detroit - Andy Gray
The two color images of the Graystone Theatre below were shot by my grandfather A.

S. "Al" Johnson in December 1949. He owned the Johnson Construction Company based in Birmingham and built and remodeled dozens of Michigan theaters and drive-ins between 1934 and 1956.Al’s son’s list of Johnson theater projects does not include the Graystone so it's not clear what year a Johnson job might have been completed there.

The Graystone Theatre is in an older building, but the entrance appears to have new doors and a new front. The building at 7816 Michigan Avenue in Detroit, currently (2021) appears to house part of the Sunshine Laundry Center..
3/8/2021 - Sky Top Drive-In Theatre - St. Louis - Andy Gray
The Sky Top Drive-In at 1892 W.

Monroe Road in St. Louis, Michigan most likely opened in the summer of 1949. My grandfather's Johnson Construction Co. built the drive-in, and his color Kodachrome slides include three images, taken just before it opened, labeled "Langston Drive-In" and dated June 1949 (James Langston was a part owner of the Sky Top).

On top of the marquee a small neon "Sky Top" sign can be seen in one slide. The drive-in has since been demolished. .
3/8/2021 - Marysville Drive-In Theatre - Marysville - Andy Gray
Continuing with my posts of the Michigan theater and drive-in projects that my Grandfather A.

S. "Al" Johnson built between 1934 and 1956, today I'm sharing some images of the construction of Bay City's Starlight Drive-In. These color Kodachrome slides were shot during June 1950 by Al Johnson.As previously mentioned, my dad (Doug Gray) and his dad (Robie Gray) both superintended or worked on several of these projects for Johnson Construction Co.

The first image shows Doug Gray, Al's son-in-law, standing at the base of the tower as it was being built.The next three slides show the tower under construction. All of the uprights that comprised the structure were built onsite by cutting and bolting together timbers into a frame. Each frame then was raised manually by the use of ropes and block-and-tackle.

Once in place, carpenters joined these vertical members to the rest of the frame with horizontal timbers. Perhaps some drive-ins were built with prefab wooden uprights or with steel trusses, but all of the slides in Al Johnson's collection show this onsite wooden truss construction.It's interesting to note that a scaffold at least eleven levels high has been erected on the screen side of the tower, and no apparent safety lines are used by any of the workers. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which governs worker safety standards, wasn't created until 1971.

After the whole tower frame was constructed, plywood sheathing was attached. In the slide images you can see that this is underway on the screen side of the tower. I'm not sure what the plywood was covered with (e. paint, concrete or some other material) because my grandfather's slides don't show any images of the finishing process..
3/8/2021 - Caro Drive-In Theatre - Caro - Andy Gray
Al Johnson's three slides show the drive-in under construction in May 1950. The two images of the screen tower appear similar to other Johnson drive-in towers that were constructed of timbers cut and assembled onsite. In the second image you can see the precast speaker posts which have been set in place, and await final grading which will cover the concrete bases. The third image shows the ticket office ready for opening night.
3/8/2021 - Burnside Drive-In Theatre - Burnside - Andy Gray
S. Johnson Jr's (Bud's) list shows the Burnside Drive-In project without a date, but Al Johnson's seven project slides are dated January and June 1951. They show final construction of the tower and the drive-in on or about opening night in June 1951. One feature of the road side of the tower is a huge mural of a rising pheasant.

The unincorporated Burnside community is at the intersection of M53 and M90, about eight miles north of Imlay City. The drive-in has since been demolished..
3/8/2021 - Liberty Theatre - Center Line - Andy Gray
The Liberty Theatre, located on Van Dyke Avenue in Center Line, Michigan, was a 1941 Johnson new construction or remodel project.

My grandfather A.S. “Al” Johnson, shot the photo on August 1948, and it shows the theater in typical "art moderne" style with period-appropriate doors, marquee and accents. In the photo you can read the address of the Biggs Lumber yard next door as “25135 Van Buren.

”.
3/5/2021 - Denniston Drive-In Theatre - Monroe - Howard Parks
Property was bought and will be reopening as Memory Lane Drive-In. Concessions/Projection building already completed and will use the three screens that used to be at the Pontiac Silverdome for its drive-in.
3/5/2021 - Flint Park - Flint - Gary
Test
3/3/2021 - Fremont Cinema - Fremont - Andy Gray
Albert S.

(Al) Johnson completed a "Fremont Theatre" job but our family records don't provide a project date. His theater job slides also don't include any shots of this theater.Based on the history provided on the Cinema Treasures website, my best guess is that Johnson Construction Company remodeled the theater in 1939 in conjunction with its renaming to the New Fremont Theatre: "The Ideal Theatre was opened prior to 1918. Around 1939 it was renamed New Fremont Theatre.

.. It was closed around 1947. It now houses the Chamber of Commerce.

" The WaterWinterWonderland site has an image (see below) showing two pairs of the trademark "art moderne" style "Johnson doors" with matching half hexagonal glass inserts. The two films on the marquee in that photo were released in 1939. The New Fremont Theatre was located at 7 East Main Street in Fremont, Michigan. A Google Maps image shows that the former theater building still houses the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.

.
3/3/2021 - Oakdale Theatre - Hazel Park - Andy Gray
The second historic Michigan theater we'll look at today is the Oakdale Theatre in Hazel Park.

My uncle's list of Johnson Construction Company theater jobs indicates two projects associated with this theater. One job was simply identified as "original" and the second job was completed in 1947.My grandad Al Johnson left behind just one Kodachrome slide with a street view of the theater taken in December 1949. It's a great time capsule view of suburban Detroit life during that era.

The theater features three pairs of classic red "Johnson doors," an ornate marquee and a prominent vertical "Oakdale" sign. To the left of the theater are a "Hall for Rent" and a Five-and-Dime store. Across the side street to the right is a drug store and a gas station. The slide also shows several old cars and trucks.

.
3/2/2021 - Fowler Theater - Fowler - Andy Gray
Today I'll highlight two old Michigan theaters for which my grandfather Al Johnson's company was the general contractor.

The Fowler Theatre stood at 225 N. Main Street in Fowler, Michigan - a small community just west of St. Johns on M-21. My uncle A.

S. Johnson Jr's records show that the Johnson Construction Company worked on the theater in 1940 and again in 1947. Al Johnson's slides show an image of the front of the building dated May 1948. A Roy Rogers movie "The Gay Ranchero" is listed on the marquee.

Several slides with interior views of the theater, including a rare view of the concessions area, were dated May and September 1949. The gentleman seen in one of the images isn't a family member, so I'm guessing that he was the theater manager in 1949. The Cinema Treasures website provides this history: "This short-lived theatre was erected shortly after World War II, and dismantled in 1951. The theatre’s seats were moved to the Howell Theatre in Howell.

Today the building serves as offices and a meeting room for the Village of Fowler." .
3/2/2021 - Ken Theatre - Frankenmuth - Andy Gray
The Ken Theatre, which opened in August 1947, was a unique design incorporating an arched roof Quonset-style building.

It was located at 195 E. Jefferson Street in Frankenmuth, Michigan. The style of the entrance as seen in my grandfather's June 1948 color slide is very similar to that of several other Johnson theater projects. The Cinema Treasures website says "Built in 1947, from ground breaking to opening day was 12 weeks.

Cost was $27,000.00." .
3/2/2021 - Garden Theatre - Frankfort - Andy Gray
The Garden Theater, at 301 Main Street in Frankfort, opened in August 1924.

My Uncle Bud's Johnson Construction Co. theater job list shows this as a 1947 remodeling project by his father Al's company. The "art moderne" style of the Garden Theatre is consistent with a 1947 remodel. Current images of the theater, which remains in use, show three pairs of green doors with paired half-octagonal glass panes.

These match the patented "Johnson doors" used in several of Al Johnson's other theater projects of the era. Unfortunately, my grandfather left behind no 35 mm slides of this theater project. The Garden Theater website says "On December 30, 2020, The Friends of The Garden Theater, a charitable organization, purchased the Garden Theater and continues with fundraising efforts to save the theater for future generations." It also indicates that the theater hosts a film festival each October.

.
3/2/2021 - Devil's Lake Amusement Park - Manitou Beach - Rick
My Cousins lived at Devils Lake in the mid 60s to mid 70s. Always had a great time visiting there. Saw Strawberry Alarm Clock at Greens but I don't have the specific date. I remember a local band called The Wrenched Souls.
3/1/2021 - Rapids Theatre - Eaton Rapids - Bob
This old theater is now a Bank in downtown Eaton Rapids.

The building is located at 111 W. Hamlin St. in Eaton Rapids. It is currently the: Homestead Saving Bank.

.
2/28/2021 - Flat Roc Theatre - Flat Rock - Andy Gray
Another theatre that served clientele southwest of Detroit was the Flatroc in Flat Rock, Michigan.

My grandfather Al Johnson built this theater, which stood at 26263 Gibraltar Road, in 1939. His son's list of Johnson Construction Co. projects lists this job without the year, but I was able to deduce it from some historic online photos. On the WaterWInterWonderland site, there's an image of the marquee showing "Gala Premier Opening Friday September Twenty Second," and another marquee photo with "Ann Southern in Congo Maisie" which was released in 1940.

The only year between 1935 and 1940 in which September 22nd fell on a Friday was 1939. My grandfather shot his color Kodachrome slides of the Flatroc nine years later in 1948. Al's exterior slide was shot in May 1948 and it shows two pairs of his patented "art moderne" or "art deco" style "Johnson doors" with matching half-octagonal windows. Al took the four interior images in November 1948.

One is labeled "Vlachos" and shows a sharply-dressed John Vlachos, who was the theater owner. Another image is the only one in 150 or more slides that my grandfather left behind that shows movie-goers in a theater that he built. A distinctly young audience appears to be waiting for the Western "Marshal of Amarillo" staring Allan "Rocky" Lane to start. Today the building appears to house an insurance business.

.
2/24/2021 - Tawas Drive-In Theatre - East Tawas - Andy Gray
Today I'm featuring the Tawas Drive-In, a project that my grandfather Al Johnson's construction company completed in 1952.

The drive-in was located at 2005 N. US-23 in East Tawas, Michigan. Al's slides include one showing construction of the concession/projection building with what could be a flatbed well-drilling rig in front of it. This image was taken in March 1952.

The remaining slides were shot in July 1952. These show the project nearing its completion. Vertical tongue-and-groove knotty pine sheathes the concession/projection building doors and also covers the ticket booth. A Jeep, used to set the precast speaker stands, is shown in one slide.

A swing set can be seen in front of the screen. Child play areas, sometimes with benches or chairs from which their parents could watch over their children, were a common feature of drive-ins of the era. Two images show the drive-in on opening night. The marquee reads: "Gala Opening Tonight 'Thief of Bagdad' and Judy Canoya in 'Hit the Hay' Souvenirs to first 500 cars.

" .
2/23/2021 - Eastwood Theatre - Eastpointe - Andy Gray
The Eastwood Theatre was located at at 21145 Gratiot Avenue in Eastpointe, The June 1949 image below was shot by my grandfather Al Johnson, whose company, Johnson Construction Co., built or remodeled the theater. The new-looking bare block walls suggest that the project was new construction. The use of the word "Cool" painted in two places on the front of the theater highlight its air conditioning system.
2/23/2021 - Drayton Theatre - Drayton Plains - Andy Gray
The Drayton Theatre in Drayton Plains, Michigan was a 1941 project by Johnson Construction Co.

It's not clear whether this was a remodeling project or new construction, though the gabled roofline and brick chimney might indicate that an existing building was renovated into a movie theater at some point. The slide that Al shot seven years later in September 1948 shows an "art moderne" style incorporating tan brickwork and a cream and red color scheme typical of many of the Johnson projects. There's little online information available about this theater, other than that it was located *"on Dixie Highway between Sashabaw and the short little street, Monroe." * Two 1948 movies are listed on the marquee: "Jinx Money" (a Bowery Boys film) and "Carson City Raiders" (a Western).

.
2/22/2021 - Bagley Theatre - Detroit - Andy Gray
This shows the Bagley Theatre at 3327 Bagley Street.

This slide was taken in March 1949, and it shows street car tracks running in front of the theater. A.S. Jr.

's (Bud's) records show this as a 1947 project by my grandfather's company..
2/22/2021 - Liberty Theatre - Detroit - Andy Gray
This image is the Liberty Theatre, which was a 1941 Johnson new construction or remodel project.

Al shot the photo on August 1948, and it shows the theater in typical "art moderne" style with period-appropriate doors, marquee and accents. There is some question in my mind as to the location of the Liberty Theatre in my grandfather's 1948 slide. The CinemaTour website lists the address as 1020 Farmer Street, which is in the heart of downtown Detroit. Historic photos on the Cinema Treasures site show a three-story Liberty Theater in a former church.

The peak of the gabled roof parallels the street and the front of the theater. Al's 1948 slide appears to have been taken in a less dense area of the city, and it shows a flat-roofed two-story theater building. Also, the front of the Gibbs Lumber store to the left of the theater shows an address of "25135 Van Dyke," which is several miles to the north of the old Farmer Street Theater Row. I believe the Liberty Theatre that Grandad Johnson built or remodeled was at that location rather than downtown on Farmer Street.

Here are three websites with info on the Liberty Theatre:.
2/22/2021 - Carlton Theatre - Detroit - Andy Gray
This image is of the Carlton Theatre, at 13125-13135 Fenkell Avenue, and it was shot in June 1948.

Similar to the Graystone, this theater appears to be in an older building that had recently been renovated. Family records don't indicate when Johnson Construction Co. might have worked on the Carlton. The marquee is an older more ornate style - perhaps dating to the 1930's.

Two 1943 films "Sahara" (starring Humphrey Bogart) and "Destroyer" were playing when the photo was taken. The marquee also says: "De Luxe Pushback Seats" and "Academy of Proven Hits." On the right side of the photo you can see a worker standing on top of a Faygo Beverages truck which is parked in front of the soda shop next to the theater. Talk about Michigan history! The building has been demolished.

.
2/22/2021 - Maxine Theatre - Croswell - Andy Gray
Another Michigan theater slide, shot by my grandfather A.

S. "Al" Johnson in August 1948, shows the Maxine Theatre located at 91 N. Howard Avenue** **in Croswell, Michigan. I really like this image because the three bystanders in front of the theater almost look like they were posed.

Al's son Bud's theater job list does not include the Maxine, so if Johnson Construction Co. remodeled the theater, it's not clear what year it might have occurred..
2/22/2021 - Town Theatre - Chesaning - Andy Gray
Today I'm sharing images of two Michigan theaters, taken in 1948 by my grandfather A.

S. "Al" Johnson. The first theatre is the Town Theatre at 135 N. Front Street in Chesaning.

Al's son listed this Johnson Construction Co. job as a 1948 project. Al's slide, below, shows the characteristic "art moderne" style "Johnson doors" in a natural color and with semi-round glass. "Angels' Alley," a film released in 1948, appears on the marquee.

The cinder block building construction suggests that the 1948 project was a new theater rather than a remodeling job..

© 2021 Water Winter Wonderland. All rights reserved.  Over  47,935,947  Served