While Eminem made news for his new restaurant Mom’s Spaghetti in Detroit, most people don’t know that they’re just a quick walk away from one of the most iconic filming locations from his movie 8 Mile. Although, after waiting 2 hours in line to get a box of spaghetti may not inspire many to take the walk, the spot that the infamous rap battle scene from the movie is only three blocks away.
Located at 220 Bagley street is the Michigan Building. This almost unassuming older office building has a secrete behind part of its facade. The far end of the building conceals what used to be the Michigan Theatre, a once opulent theater venue that was built in 1925. The French Renaissance-style theater space once sat over 4000 guests at the height of its popularity and opened with the film “You Never Know Women” with Florence Vidor and Lowell Sherman. The theater was loaded in extravagant details, from its auditorium to its four-story, 1,000-square-foot, mirror-paneled, black-and-white checkered-floor Grande Lobby. The lobby was complete with columns and red velvet hangings, marble archways, lavish towering columns, baskets of flowers, and large crystal chandeliers and touted as a jewel of the city.
Unfortunately over the years, the theater began to lose business and attendance, and it was sold off in the 1960s and again in the ’70s. It did fall into stages of disrepair and then was partially restored before it became a venue for rock bands in the ’70s. Headliners that performed there include David Bowie, The Stooges, The New York Dolls, Aerosmith, Bob Seger, Rush, Iron Butterfly, Blue Oyster Cult, and Badfinger.
But it wasn’t until 1977 where the theater was converted to its current state. The interior had become vandalized and the space was needed for safe and secure parking for the offices adjacent to the space. Removing the theater threatened the structural integrity of the adjacent buildings, so they took the structurally sound frame and turned it into the parking garage that it still is to this day.
While most would think that the interior elements would be removed from the space before they turned the space into a parking garage they left several elements including carvings, frescos, and even parts of the original curtains still hanging in certain areas. “We wanted to leave some of the theater’s beauty intact,” Leo Cooney told the Free Press in September 1978. Today, employees of the connected office buildings work in the old theater, you can find basketball hoops hung on the once heavily decorated walls as well.
The space that many locals today may drive past and not think of as more than a normal office building still holds a well know secret inside. It has gained some notoriety among fans of 8 Mile and urban explorers, but gaining access to the theater isn’t easy and should only be done with permission.
Where to Find the Parking Theater From 8 Mile
Mom’s Spaghetti in Detroit is closely located near one of the most iconic places, 8 Mile, and some may be attempting to take a walk if not for the long hours they have to wait in the line to get a box of Spaghetti. The ancient building has a secret behind its façade with its far end, which was once an opulent theater built-in 1925. The building has served several purposes and survived many eras, which can be equated to its construction style. Like a horse arena footing that requires a strong base to last, the building has lasted this long due to its strong base.
The building has served several purposes, with the latest being used as a safe and secure space for parking after the vandalization of its interior. The building ceased serving as a theater room in 1977, and for fear of losing the integrity of the adjacent offices, its structurally sound frame was turned into a parking garage.
After being turned to a parking garage, several interior elements such as carvings, frescos, and parts of the original curtain remain intact. Many locals drive past the spaces, not knowing what is inside the ancient building though it has gained some notoriety among the 8 Mile Fans and urban explorers.