Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Leifeste, Amalia

Committee Member

Stiefel, Barry

Committee Member

Hudgins, Carter


Detroit is frequently a case study for contemporary urban and economic issues. A specific component of Detroit's built fabric that requires preservation attention in light of the city's struggles is the undervalued theater district. Several of the theaters in the central district of Detroit are now threatened by demolition after years of neglect. The history and significance of the theaters, as well as careful consideration of the range of acceptable preservation treatment options, stand to inform a preservation plan for these and other cities' theaters. One of the options is the reuse of the theaters. While the large scale of these theaters provides a generous canvas for reuse, the present deteriorated state and socio-economic context of the city presents numerous challenges. This thesis explores the significance of Detroit theaters while prioritizing and developing a range of appropriate preservation treatment options for currently abandoned theaters. An examination of the history of past and current conditions of theaters throughout the city is provided through a comprehensive survey and locator map. Assessments accompany those theaters within the historic theater districts. Additional consideration was given to the National Theater, as a representative of abandoned theaters in Detroit. This thesis concludes with preservation recommendations for this theater and a tool to aid in preservation planning in Detroit and other communities.



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