The Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids turns 100 this year. Located at 1130 Wealthy Street, the theater was constructed in 1911 for vaudeville and live theater, later becoming a neighborhood movie house. During World War I, the Wealthy served as a warehouse for the Michigan Aircraft Company and in the 1960s is was the only regional venue for foreign films.
The theater closed in the late 1970s and remained empty for over 25 years before the South East Economic Development neighborhood association launched a capital campaign to fund its restoration. The Theatre re-opened in 1998 as a community arts center and has helped to spawn a renaissance of the entire Wealthy Street business district. (check the video below for the astounding before & after photos!)
In 2004, the Theatre closed and sought a nonprofit partner who could commit to the continued growth of the theatre. The Grand Rapids Community Media Center (CMC) rose to the challenge, and with a successful capital campaign was able to acquire the Wealthy and make critical improvements including a concert sound system, new projection screen, a micro-cinema space and repainting, upgrades and renovations throughout.
In addition to providing a modern and comfortable venue for performance and film, the Wealthy Theatre is home to CMC projects including GRTV Television and WYCE-FM Radio. Absolute Michigan is excited to be helping the Wealthy Theatre mark 100 years and also to present some of the amazing projects that the CMC is involved with. This weekend, our Driving Michigan crew including host Seth Bernard will be visiting with the crew at the CMC/Wealthy to learn about what they do and how and why they are doing it!
PS: Tonight they are screening the classic film Harold & Maude which of course features the music of Cat Stevens.
Visit grcmc.org to learn much more about them including their services for nonprofit organizations including media production, website creation and social media training. Now check out this cool before & after video!