A Brief History of the Vogue Theatre

The Vogue Theatre, Manistee

On January 10, 1938, the Manistee News Advocate described the new Vogue Theater as: “Ultra modern in every respect, it is the last word in architectural design, luxuriously fitted with every convenience and equipped with the finest projection and sound systems available.”

Built by the Butterfield Theatre Company on Manistee’s River Street, Architects Pereira and Pereira of Chicago designed a Northern Michigan variation on the Art Deco Theme. The exterior of the building was in stark contrast to its Victorian neighbors with its strong horizontal and vertical lines and general simplicity.

The façade features a large canopy with a freestanding sign and another large sign running vertically up the side of the façade. The deeply recessed entry led to a modernistic lobby with resilient rubber flooring, indirect lighting, a mirrored ceiling and walls of figured wood depicting scenes in honor of Manistee’s heritage.

On the sloping theater floor were 935 seats of blue and coral leather and velour. The walls and ceilings used the same colors, accented with blonde maple, chrome and aluminum trim. Today, the Vogue Theater retains its original exterior appearance and the interior, while altered, retains much of its original character.

The restoration and full revitalization of the Vogue, in keeping with the look and feel of the City of Manistee, has been consistently identified as a top priority for the development and enhancement of the City of Manistee.

In 2010, the Manistee Main Street/Downtown Development Authority purchased the Vogue for a sum of $65,000 with a goal to revitalize the theatre and have it become a catalyst for downtown prosperity, much as has been the case with The State Theatre in Traverse City.

The purchase of The Vogue followed the completion of a feasibility study funded by the U. S. Department of Agriculture through a grant to the Alliance for Economic Success. That study assessed the existing physical conditions, the market, design plans and cost estimates and provided an implementation strategy to revitalize the Theatre through private investment. The study proved invaluable because it documented that the building could and should be restored and returned to its prior use.