Detroit Lives: Part 2 - Music, Motown and Mansions - Atlas Obscura
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Detroit Lives: Part 2 - Music, Motown and Mansions

Eastown Theatre Detroit

The abandoned Eastown Theatre, Detroit  - Creative Commons image by JVLIVSPhoto (source)

In this second installation of the Detroit Lives video series, Johnny Knoxville heads out to explore the abandoned Eastown Theatre with Detroit band the Dirtbombs. Once a deco-era movie palace and then later a rock and roll venue, the Eastown Theatre once hosted the likes of Alice Cooper, the Doors, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead before the city closed the building down in 1973. Since then, it has had a few resurrections as performing arts space and a porn house, but ultimately the decay has won - at least for now. The building has been empty for a decade, and the once beautiful interior is seen nearly destroyed from the ravages of time and weather.

We were sad to learn that the building caught fire two days after this was filmed, causing irreparable damage. As of now, the building will almost certainly have to be torn down. 

In the second half of the video, Detroit hip hop producer Black Milk takes Johnny to visit motown legend Berry Gordy’s mansion. Gordy was the founder of Motown Records in 1960, and went on to cultivate some of the city’s most notorious talents like Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, and Stevie Wonder. His former residence, now known as the Motown Mansion, is an Italian Renaissance style mansion in the Boston-Edison Historic District originally built in 1917 for a lumber magnate.

Contrasting with the sad fate of the Eastown Theatre, the Motown Mansion is an example of a successful restoration of a historic building on the brink - the current owners rescued the building after nearly twenty years of sitting empty.

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