Historic theater screens $2.4M renovation


Vogue Theater in downtown Manistee opened in 1938. Courtesy Orion Construction

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore and a noted local general contractor have had starring roles in the revitalization of a historic movie theater.

Grand Rapids-based Orion Construction is wrapping up the renovation work this month to the Vogue Theater in downtown Manistee Up North.

The builder began the $2.4-million project in early 2012.

Construction stopped briefly to allow the nonprofit theater’s board of directors to raise more donations for the project.

But Jason Wheeler of Orion Construction said the work, on what has turned out to be a 16-month project, will be completed this month.

Integrated Architecture of Grand Rapids and Kendra Thompson, a Manistee firm, designed the renovation.

Vogue Theater, at 383 River St., had a soft opening as part of the city’s annual Sleighbell Parade.

“Top 10 cinema”

The Vogue, which opened in 1938, has undergone a complete interior and exterior rehabilitation.

The interior was renovated into two auditoriums. The grand theater seats about 200 moviegoers, while the smaller and more intimate one has seating for 50.

The lobby, lounge and concession area were rebuilt and Boston Light & Sound installed the digital projection systems.

“In terms of technology, design and aesthetics, the Vogue will be one of the top ten cinema venues in the country,” said Travis Alden, the Vogue’s manager, to Preservation Nation.

“That is important for everyone to know,” Alden added. “This project isn’t just a ‘clean-up-and-apply-some-paint’ project. We’re creating a world-class movie house.”

New mechanicals and plumbing systems were also installed.

Phase two of the work will install a third screen on the theater’s second level and add a balcony to the grand theater.


The Manistee Downtown Development Authority bought Vogue Theater a few years ago for $65,000, after the city council forgave the building’s delinquent taxes, which allowed the sale to go forward.

The Alliance for Economic Success and the Manistee County Community Foundation coordinated the fundraising effort, and residents donated their time, money and efforts to the project.

The Grand Rapids-based Frey Foundation, which contributed $100,000 to the project’s goal, was one of many organizations that got involved with restoring the theater.

Moore, a Flint native who won the Academy Award in the best documentary category for “Columbine,” challenged the Manistee community to reopen Vogue Theater.

Moore led the drive to do the same to the State Theater in Traverse City.

The city credited Moore with inspiring the project.

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