Did you know that the Alger Theater opened to great excitement in 1935, a neighborhood theater on the east side of Detroit with first-rate Hollywood films? Over the years, the Alger added a performance stage for live local theater like Bye Bye Birdie and live music, including Dave Brubeck, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
But in 1981, the theater closed and was left vacant. It was left to decay until 1986 when the Friends of the Alger was formed, and the theater was purchased. Funds for repairs were scarce. With the discovery of an undisclosed tax bill, coupled with a declining economy and business district, work on the theater progressed slowly.
The Friends of the Alger are more determined than ever. Our east side community has forged new partnerships with the city of Detroit, foundations, corporations, neighborhood organizations,and local businesses, leading to remarkable successes. We are all excited about the economic opportunities the new streetscape is offering to the Morningside, East English Village, and Cornerstone Village communities.
As a result of our generous contributions from Hudson Webber Foundation, Lear Corporation, Rocket Community Fund, DTE Energy and Helen Laidlaw Foundation, we are happy to report the following major recent improvements and collaborations:
Installation of a new ADA-compliant elevator to our rooftop patio, as well as commissioning and installing artist Desiree Kelley's murals on the rooftop.
After 30 years, a new water line has been installed.
Installation of a new ADA-compliant restroom, heat and concrete floors in the retail space is currently underway.
We are also happy that these donations paid for the necessary straightening of the iron frame on the building for our community marquee. We anticipate applying a fresh coat of our signature red paint this spring. Our marquee board seems to be a community landmark, and we’re happy ro take your messages on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have a message to display, please head over to our MARQUEE page to reach us directly.
January 2024 Updates
In addition to our efforts to maintain and repair the theater, the Alger is happy to continue working towards providing a community space for local events and programs. We have partnered with Rocket Community Fund to canvas 5,500 east side homes in 2023 to hear residents' needs and to alert neighbors to available services. Last year, we opened our doors to assist neighbors in completing their 2023 HOPE applications, providing much-needed property tax assistance to the surrounding community.
We've helped foster community meetings to introduce local entrepreneurs who proposed their business ideas for retail spaces along East Warren. We partnered with the City of Detroit, as well as other organizations, to host meetings to determine the design for the new East Warren Ave streetscape.
Another note of Alger pride, we recently opened our retail space to help incubate Next Chapter Books, a new Detroit Bookstore, owned by Morningside residents Sarah and Jay Williams, who found their permanent home just a block north of us at Kensington and East Warren!