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Howell Theatre

Address: 315 E Grand River Ave
City: Howell State: MI Zip: Phone:  
County: Livingston
View on Google Maps  
Open: 1927   Capacity: 500  
Owner: Chandler Inc
Number of visits to this page since Sept 2013: 11446

1/2/2021 - Sarah Schumm
The Howell Theatre is still operating as the Historic Howell Theatre as of December 2020 and ran as a drive in during the pandemic. It has an active Instagram Page @historichowelltheater.
6/12/2014 - B.J. McDevitt
6/12/14 - After being on the market for six months, a Downtown Howell fixture has a new owner. Tyler DePerro, the owner of FilmTell LLC in Toledo, Ohio issued a press release saying he closed on the theater Tuesday. DePerro says he has a “unique vision” for the theater at 315 East Grand River, which he plans to renovate over the next few months. He plans to keep it as a two-screen theater, but wants to make-over the building’s facade and lobby to showcase local artwork and host community gatherings. He describes himself as a movie guy with a “deep and expansive” knowledge of film and its history, His plans for the Howell Theater call for an assortment of films offered each week that will be a mix of independent, classics and documentaries, along with silent films and world cinema.

In the release, DePerro says he wants to bring back the “magic in movie magic,” with period renovations and thoughtful programming, The theater had closed down last summer after the previous owners failed to make it financially successful. A plan to locate a gourmet restaurant there also fell through, leaving many to worry the theater and its iconic marquee would no longer be a part of Howell’s downtown. DePerro says he has created a Facebook page for people to follow the progress of the renovations and plans for the theater.

5/24/2013 - B.J. McDevitt
No need to add this note, but wanted to let you know that the Howell Theater is not closed yet. No date set for the closing yet, but will send you a note when it does.
5/14/2013 - B.J. McDevitt
The Root restaurant chooses new location in Howell http://www. freep. com/article/20130320/ENT08/130320068/The-Root-restaurant-chooses-new-location-in-Howell The owner of The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake Township has purchased the 86-year-old Howell Theater in downtown Howell and will convert it into a second Root location, executive chef James Rigato said today. Businessman Ed Mamou announced last year that he planned to open in Howell — but in the town’s Heart of Howell redevelopment project Mamou and the developer talked for months but could not reach agreement, Rigato said. The movie house was vacant for years until it was refurbished and reopened in 2011, but “it wasn’t very successful and had been for sale for a while,” Rigato said.

Mamou will allow the theater to continue operating under a lease until its film obligations are done and design work for the restaurant is complete, Rigato said. Renovations will start as soon after that as possible. The 10,000-square-foot building at 315 E. Grand River is large enough to include an event space suitable for wedding receptions and to allow for entertainment in addition to dining, Rigato said.

The chef said he was especially excited about the Howell Theater location because he grew up across the street from the building and his mother still lives there. “I could see it out of my bedroom window growing up,” Rigato said. “Howell is really a beautiful town. It’s picturesque and has a lot of history.

I’m so excited to be able to turn it into something special,” he said. Although many people have told Mamou and Rigato that Howell can’t support the kind of restaurant they operate, Rigato said they heard the same warnings about White Lake — and those proved wrong. The Root was the 2012 Free Press Restaurant of the Year. Howell needs a destination restaurant, he said, suggesting that opening the Root there will be like the opening of Clarkston Union in Clarkston and Five Lakes Grill in Milford.

Both towns benefitted from the arrival of those popular restaurants. The Heart of Howell project, meanwhile, “is moving forward and looking for a tenant,” Rigato said. “They’re doing a nice job. I’m still excited for them.

” The Root’s move to the theater will be “a win-win for the city. Now instead of having one cool rebuilt space, they’ll have two,” he said.
10/2/2011 - B.J. McDevitt
The theater has yet again closed. It is however slated to open under new ownership on October 7th 2011.
5/21/2009 - B.J. McDevitt
Looks as if the Howell Theater once again has another life:http://www. whmi. com/news/article/8350It appears the Howell Theater will re-open for business and possibly before the month is out. Owner Carol Chandler tells WHMI that she gained control of the theater through a recent court hearing. The theater on Grand River in downtown Howell was shut down on May 6th by Chandler’s son, who operated the theater for the past couple of years.

Chandler says she’s now in the process of pulling everything together such as getting movies and supplies ready and hiring staff. Meanwhile, the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority in partnership with the Howell Carnegie District Library have been holding the classic film and lunch series at the theater. Authority Director Debbie Mikula tells WHMI they have changed the venue for the upcoming showing of “From Here to Eternity” on May 26th to the to the Howell High School Freshman campus auditorium. Once the theater is back up and running, Mikula anticipates bringing the series back to the theater.

5/5/2009 - Livingston Daily
Howell Theater closing its doors By Leah Boyd • DAILY PRESS & ARGUS • May 5, 2009 The historical Howell Theater in downtown Howell will shut down after business hours today, ending an extensive effort by an owner who purchased the theater in 2001. He said Monday that he couldn't make the business profitable. Advertisement Owner Gene Chandler said the landmark theater at 315 E. Grand River Ave. will close indefinitely and that the property has been put up for sale.

The business hasn't been profitable in quite a while, Chandler said. The things necessary to change the business are quite substantial. Chandler, who invested more than $1 million in renovations to the theater after he purchased the building from the city of Howell eight years ago, said business suffered from movie-licensing restrictions and by only having two screens available to show films. He said he has been unable to secure the financing required to fund the expansion needed to make the theater successful.

We've been kind of stuck, unable to expand, he said. The problem isn't that the business can't be made profitable. Chandler said licensing issues created most of the problem because film companies require the theater to play a movie for several weeks, although attendance usually dies down after the film's first week. For example, Hannah Montana: The Movie grossed three times as much in its first week playing at the theater than it did in its third, Chandler said.

Since the theater only has two screens, it also doesn't allow for a wide selection or for keeping up with the latest releases. That's the trouble with small downtown theaters, Chandler said. That's why there aren't any of them left. You have to have enough screens to play the hot movies that are opening.

Chandler, who operates under his family business, Chandler Corp. of Michigan, is the primary owner of the Howell Theater, although he said other family members have stock in the company. He said the decision to close was partially due to the family's inability to agree on a viable business strategy. The theater property, which also includes upstairs residential apartments, was listed for sale at $690,000 Monday.

The theater, which has operated in the city for several decades, was most recently closed in the late 1990s. The city of Howell purchased the property in an attempt to preserve the historic site and then later sold it to Chandler. Advertisement The Daily Press & Argus, which is located next door, had shown interest in purchasing the building to expand its facility before the city intervened, but the paper has no interest in the building at present. Debbie Mikula, director of the Howell Area Parks and Recreation Authority, headed the city's Howell Theater task force to keep the entertainment facility a part of downtown.

The residents of this area wanted a small-town theater, Mikula said. It absolutely enhanced the downtown. But I understand the conditions they are facing right now. Those conditions showed Monday when no customers showed up for the theater's 3 p.

m. showing. Theater Manager Mike Gianino said only two people attended that day's 1 p. m.

showing. It's been slow, Gianino said. If people don't show up, there's nothing we can do. The Howell Theater closing leaves Livingston County with one cinema, the 20-screen MJR Brighton Towne Square Digital Cinema 20 in Brighton.

5/5/2009 - Web
We regret to inform the community and our loyal customers that Howell Theater will close indefinitely effective at the end of business Tuesday May 5th, 2009 Chandler Corporation of Michigan is a local family business which has owned and operated the Howell Theater since buying it from the City of Howell in 2001. Our family helped preserve the theater and keep it an entertainment venue at a time when its future was uncertain. We invested deeply in the restoration and renovation of the building, modernizing and expanding it. We are proud to have played an important role in the preservation and legacy of the historic Howell Theater. In recent years the family could not agree on a viable strategy to continue operating the business and so we are suspending theater operations indefinitely.

It's been a difficult decision for us to make, so this comes with a lot of anguish. It is our sincere hope that the Howell Theater will reopen in the future. The theater building and business are currently for sale and are listed with Griffith Realty which can be reached at (810) 227-1016 or on the web at http://www. griffithrealty.

com/ Inquiries regarding the business should be directed by email to webmaster2007@howelltheater. com or call (517) 540-1077.
5/5/2009 - Dan Martin
I was really bummed to find out the Howell Theater is closing. Here are some links about it: http://www. howelltheater. com/ http://www. livingstondaily.

2/23/2003 - WaterWinterWonderland
The Howell Theatre has been restored from top to bottom and is one of the most gorgeous theatres we have seen yet. The brand new marquee welcomes you into a totally remodeled and restored interior. 2 Auditoriums with new seating, DTS sound, as well as immaculate rest rooms. An excellent snack bar completes the picture. Special thanks to Sanford Chandler who was kind enough to give us a tour and explain the whole process of getting the Howell restored to its former splendor.

Keep up the good work Chandler Inc!!!.
1/8/2003 - Web
The Howell Theater was constructed in 1927 as both a movie house and a live entertainment venue. It replaced the smaller Temple Theater (located one block west) that was apparently suitable only for movies. It also provided a stage and orchestra pit suitable for musical and live entertainment that would have been previously held at the Howell Opera House that closed several years earlier. The Theater was built by the Locey family which had developed several other recreational properties in the same block, including a dance hall and gym (now Howell Auto Parts) and a roller rink. As late as New Years 1932 there was still live musical entertainment at the theater along with movies.

In 1938 the Howell Theater was extensively renovated by the Schulte Amusement Company of Detroit which had acquired the Theater. The renovations included more spacious seating (which remain) and bathrooms, new projection and sound equipment, acoustical treatment, and a new marquee that complimented the original vertical sign that was retained. Schulte Amusement continued to operate the theater for many years, although by 1944 the theater was being used exclusively as a movie house. In 1956 they again replaced the marquee along with the original entrance and canopy.

The original theater sign and 1938 marquee were also removed. The original storefronts were not altered and remain to this day, although some architectural elements may have been covered over. By 1970, the theater had been acquired by The Whisper and Wetsman Company, that ran the Theater as the Howell Theater Corporation. During the 1970s the plaster walls were covered by draperies and the movie screen was moved to the front of the proscenium to accommodate a larger picture.

The sound system was also upgraded around this time and it remains. Little additional work was done after this time period, although the dual carbon-arc projection system has been changed to a xenon single projector platter system. In 1998 the theater was placed on the market and closed its doors in December, 1998. The theater was acquired by the City of Howell in June, 1999.

Immediately following the purchase, the City Council formed the Howell Theater committee to advise them on the potential renovation and future usage of the theater. The committee did extensive research and learned the intricacies of operating a movie and rental facility. The general consensus of the committee was to guarantee and retain the historical and architectural elements of the Howell Theater and to see it renovated as a modest and plain art deco movie house. As it looked at financing and overseeing the renovation of a theater facility, the committee felt that it would be imperative to find someone or some group with theater management experience along with vision and commitment to oversee the renovations and operations.

The committee produced a final report outlining recommendation for redevelopment of the Howell Theater. A complete copy of the report is available for review at the City Managers office located at 611 E. Grand River, 3rd Floor, Howell, Michigan 48843. The Theater committee recommended that the city accept proposals from a private entity (for-profit or non-profit), company, individual, or group of investors to purchase, renovate and operate the Howell Theater with the goal of maintaining the theater as an entertainment venue.

1/8/2003 - Web
A 75-year-old theater in Howell, Mich. , opened last month after a two-year restoration. The Howell Theater first opened in 1927. A year after the theater closed in 1998, the city bought the building for $310,000. A private developer, Chandler Corp.

, bought the Howell for the same price in 1999. Workers repaired the theater’s leaded-glass windows, replaced the seats, and raised a new sign that resembles its original 1927 marquis. The 500-seat theater now shows first-run movies. The community is thrilled, says Camille Lievense, manager of the city’s downtown development authority.

So few movie houses have such a happy ending.
Howell Theatre - OLD SHOT OF MARQUEE
Howell Theatre - 1931 PHOTO FROM PAUL PETOSKEY
Howell Theatre - OLD MARQUEE
Howell Theatre - OLD MARQUEE SHOT
Howell Theatre - ORIGINAL SEATS
Howell Theatre - OLD NIGHT SHOT
Howell Theatre - OLD PIC

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