The Avon Movie Theatre of Stockbridge, Michigan: 1940-1957
It’s believed that Stockbridge once had two movie theaters…one in the town hall and another on Clinton Street’s main drag.
The town hall was built in 1892 in order to cater to local residents as a community center and contain the township offices. It was also called the Stockbridge “Opera House”, a common name for this type of structure, even if operas never appeared. Maybe not operas, but local and other stage shows were performed there as well as club meetings, lectures, and music programs.
There are a handful of old newspaper ads that can be found referring to Stockbridge’s ‘Avon Theatre’ that lists motion pictures of the day through the 1940s and mid-50s. Did the Avon take up residence in the town hall?
The owner of the Avon was Sumner Hall, who operated the theater with his wife. It opened in 1940 with a seating capacity of 218. It was a nice escape for Stockbridge residents as a respite away from the harsh news pertaining to World War II. The Avon Theatre seems to have lasted as a movie house up until 1955 or 1957.
About eleven years later, in 1968, the town hall was again used for performances, this time for live rock ‘n roll bands. Titled “The Factory”, it was a place for teens and nobody over 19 was allowed…..and it was packed every weekend. Our band played there many times until the venue finally dissolved about a year later.
Although information is rare and extremely scarce on this second Stockbridge theater, it seems there was one called the “Starland” on Clinton Street next to Spadafore’s Sweet Shop. An old 1939 photo shows what appears to be a sign that faintly reads as “Starland”. Was the Starland a movie house, vaudeville theater, burlesque dive, or a venue for live stage plays?
The Town Hall got its own Historical Marker and an entry in the National Register of Historic places in 1980.
Avon Theatre (and the Starland), Stockbridge: 1940-1957
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