The Grand Riviera Theatre, Detroit Michigan

Date added: March 22, 2011 Categories: Michigan Theater

The Grand Riviera was opened on Monday evening, August 24, 1925, with the following dedication:

"To the people of Detroit and to their children and to their children's children; that through the years it may lighten the cares of life's vissicitudes with wholesome laughter; that they may drink the innocent inspirations of music; that they may wrap themselves in the soft cloak of the arts and revel in decent recreation against the humdrum routine of mundane existence; that they may find surcease from the responsibilities and the wearing grind of modern metropolitan life - to them and for this does the Grand Riviera Theatre Management dedicate this beautiful temple of play.

"The lavishness with which this playhouse has been furnished has occasioned great comment; nevertheless, we feel that the art of modern vaudeville and of the photodrama is worthy of and prospers best in an environment of luxury and refinement. We are convinced that conditions in this exclusive district and in the entire city of Detroit and its suburbs, not only warrant, but demand a vaudeville and photoplay institution of the very first rank.

"We have the utmost faith that our judgement will be vindicated by the results - the cooperation and patronage of the residents of Detroit.

On opening night the program featured the orchestra under the direction of Hugo Kalsow; Nina Griffin and George L. Hamrick at- the Robert Morton pipe organ; the Chase Boys Choir; and Colleen Moore in the feature picture, "The Desert Flower."

The Grand Riviera continued for several years as a combined motion-picture and vaudeville house, changing to a picture only policy as sound pictures arrived and vaudeville subsequently declined. From 1957 to 1961 the Grand Riviera was the city's principal legitimate theatre. On its stage appeared many noted entertainers as well as touring companies from several top Broadway musical shows. After the rebuilding of a major downtown legitimate theatre, the Riviera returned to motion pictures, for which both its location and its acoustics were better suited. In time the theatre's finances followed its neighborhood into a decline. In the early 1970s, however, there were signs of refurbishment and renewal, and the words on the marquee, "WATCH FOR GALA REOPENING" proved too optimistic.

The theatre was built by the Grand Riviera Theatre Company on land secured for the purpose from Joseph Esser (November 26, 1924, recorded, Wayne Co. Register of Deeds Feb. 4, 1925, liber 826994) and Charles W. and Anna C. Muns (Nov. 25, 1924, recorded Mar. 12, 1925, liber 835911). The title was then transferred from the Grand Riviera Theatre Co., to James Realty Corporation, James Nederlander, Pres., Frederick Nederlander, Sec'y (on March 2, 1952, Reg. No. D 730652, liber 11642), and then to the National Bank of Detroit (Reg. No. B 565729, liber 12230) and then to Charles and Virginia Kendrick of Detroit in a Land Contract dated Oct. 18, 1972, which was then assigned by the Kendricks to the Small Business Administration, July 15, 1976, for $141,000, RE: -The Riviera Coffee Shop.

The Grand Riviera has seen little alteration over the years. Of the changes that have been made, the most obvious are in the marquee, whose original classical design was, at a fairly early date, altered to incorporate a lavish swirling pattern of incandescent lights; and in the vertical sign, removing the word GRAND which appeared across the top, and replacing it with THE - thereby shortening the name of the theatre, but emphasising the main word, RIVIERA. Within the building, the southernmost extension of the mezzanine foyer was enclosed as an office, and the scenery dock walls were removed to accommodate the large traveling stage productions of the 1950s. However, in all essentials, the theatre appears in the 1970s as it did in 1925, save for a sign saying "Closed Indefinitely."

Four major elements compose the building mass. A large rectangular auditorium occupies about three fifths of the site. It is fronted by a smaller and lower rectangular block containing stores and offices. An octagonal corner tower, the tallest element of the complex, houses the lobby. The stage loft at the rear of the auditorium rises to the ridge level of the half hipped main roof.

The building is basically rectangular and measures approximately 120 feet by 210 feet overall.

The auditorium block and lobby tower are one-story structures of monumental height. The three story store and office section of the building is actually lover than either of those other major elements.

The focal point of the exterior is the octagonal tower at the apex of the southeast and southwest street elevations of the building. It is flanked by two nearly identical minor pavilions parallel to the streets. The store and office block (facing southwest) is set eight inches back from the plane of the pavilion at its side, and the auditorium block (facing southeast) is recessed eight inches between the other pavilion and the stage block. The strong horizontal line of the wide marquee curving across the tower and pavilions creates a visual separation between their ground floor walls and the walls above.

Three bays of the octagonal tower are fully exposed to view; the rest are partially embedded within the building. The exterior ground-floor bays are defined by slender terra-cotta-clad piers now obscured by display panels. The central bay (facing due south) contains the octagonal box office, which bisects the wall plane and is flanked by single doors. Each of the two lateral bays is entirely spanned by two sets of paired doors. The wooden doors have large plate glass panels and are topped by broad glazed transoms masked by grilles of wooden balusters. The transoms are now concealed by modern attraction boards. The box office opens to both the sidewalk and the rotunda within the building. It originally had plate glass windows, each with a transom, set in ornamental metalwork above a marble base and dado. The metalwork angles had spiral colonnettes, and the flat roof was crested. The box office has been altered and now has single plate glass windows set in a thin aluminum framework above a red--bordered white-paneled dado.

Above the marquee, the three exposed bays of the tower are articulated by colossal terra-cotta Renaissance Composite paneled pilasters ornamented by cream bas-relief candelabra on a maroon background. An elaborate terra-cotta entablature, composed of an architrave enriched by bead-and-reel and talon moldings, a frieze of cream-on-maroon rinceaux, and a foliated cymatium cornice, breaks forward slightly over each pilaster "support."

A twenty-five-foot-high arched window is the most conspicuous feature of each visible tower bay. Each window has an ornamental terra-cotta architrave and scrolled keystone and is tripartite below the springing line of the arch. The heavy wooden mullions are intersected by a cross bar at the springing line of the arch and by a minor entablature at a point one third of the total height above the sill. The entablatures originally bore console-supported triangular pediments above their centers. The lower sections of the windows, now partially concealed by the marquee, have eight lights at either side and 12 in the center. The sections above have 12 lights at either side and 18 in the center. The arched portions have concentric sections with radial muntins holding three lights in the inner circle and 12 in the outer one. Above each window, its lower edge tangent to the keystone, is a square cream terra-cotta panel with a crossetted frame capped and flanked by double scrolls of console shape. The panels are filled by a grille motif of molded balusters against a maroon background.

The pavilions at either side of the octagonal tower are identical except for their ground floors and one small balcony. Both ground-floor sections are sheathed in cream terra cotta simulating ashlar and are terminated by three simply molded bands forming two friezes. The upper frieze continues the line of the original marquee, which it equaled in width. The lower frieze continues below the marquee. The southwest pavilion ground floor contains an arched entrance edged in terra-cotta rope molding within which is a deep-set plain wooden and glass single paneled door below an arched transom. This entrance leads to the first-floor theatre manager's office and the second and third-floor rental offices. To the east of the entrance are a theatre display panel with a rectangular window screened by wooden balusters above it. The pavilion facing southeast has no openings. Instead, it has a tall display panel flanked by two lower ones with ornamental terra-cotta panels above them.

Above the marquee, each pavilion has a French window elaborately framed in a terra-cotta architrave capped by a console-supported triangular broken pediment with a fluted semi-urn on a festooned pedestal at its center. The frieze between the consoles has cream rinceaux on a maroon ground. Each leaf of the paired wooden French window-doors has 12 lights. The southwest pavilion opening is fronted by a small wrought-iron-railed balcony with three steps leading to the marquee roof. At the third-story level, the pavilion walls have no openings. Instead, each is ornamented by an elliptical terra-cotta cartouche bearing a crowned shield with three Florentine lilies. Each pavilion has a terra-cotta entablature with a cream-on-maroon rinceau frieze and an enriched cornice supporting a cream terra-cotta cresting of foliated finial forms on console-flanked pedestals.

The three-bay-wide and three-stories-high facade of the store and office block adjoins the southwest pavilion to complete the front (Grand River Avenue) elevation of the building. The first story has three standard metal and glass store fronts set between terra-cotta imitation ashlar piers and below a terra-cotta entablature motif with a belt course "cornice" and a frieze that continues the horizontal line of the original marquee. Each store is spanned by a high glass transom and has a single recessed door. The facade of the upper two floors is treated as a colossal shallow -triple arcade motif. There is an oval terra-cotta plaque above each of the two middle piers, and the main entablature and roof cresting are identical to those of the pavilions. Terra-cotta impost blocks mark the springing point of the arches. The windows are paired and are grouped to form an arcuated motif set shallowly within the larger arches. The second floor windows have double-hung one-over-one-light wooden sash, and those on the third floor are similar, except for having arch-headed upper lights. The spandrels between the stories have large slightly projecting brick panels laid in running bond, and the tympana above the third-story windows are set in all-header bond.

Beyond the southeast pavilion, the taller walls of the auditoritim and stage form the major portion of the Riviera Street elevation. The expansive plane of common brick auditorium wall is relieved above a belt course by nine vertical "panels," their borders formed by three rows of headers. The even loftier stage wall has three similar but taller "panels," the two flanking the central one being narrower than the rest. The group of three paired exits nearest the front has an architrave of brick set edgewise. The other openings (a single set of paired doors, a group of two paired doors,' a single stage door under a three-light transom, and a pair of taller stage doors, all at street level; and four pairs of fire escape doors and a small metal-sashed six-over-six light window) have no formal treatment whatever. The auditorium and stage walls are capped by simple molded sheet-copper copings. The rear (northeast) and northwest walls are entirely without ornament and are capped by copings of vitreous tile. All exit doors are metal sheathed. Northeast and northwest windows have wire glass set in double-hung metal sash.

The marquee forms a quarter circle, following the lines of the corner tower, and extends tangentially across the flanking pavilions. At the center of the curve is a large white-glass illuminated attraction board. The remainder of the marquee is faced with sheet-metal, painted, and studded with light bulbs in irregular swirls centering on circles containing an "R" monogram. This facing conceals a much more restrained and elegant original.

The original facing had three double-ranked low horizontal illuminated attraction boards surmounted by minor cresting with a palmette antefix. The glyph-ornamented marquee fascia was concave in plan between the display panels, and straight at each end. Its cresting pattern resembled Greek acroteria.

The tall original vertical sign, approximately 53 feet high by 12 feet wide, projects at a right angle from the center of the southwest pavilion wall. It has a steel skeleton clad in sheet metal. Within the widened topmost section, which is capped by a broken pediment, the original word GRAND has been replaced by T H E in large block letters. The long vertical section contains the word RIVIERA in much larger letters of similar style. The letters were originally illuminated by incandescent bulbs, later by neon tubing, but the lighting has been inoperative for many years. The present color of the sign is medium green with letters in Day-Glo orange. An earlier color scheme was white lettering on a dark blue ground.

Rotunda lobby: This lobby occupies the southeastern corner of the building. It is entered directly from the sidewalk with no intermediate vestibules. It is circular in plan, approximately 40 feet in diameter, and is divided into eight bays corresponding to the eight sides of the octagonal exterior.

The rotunda floor is laid in multi-colored, ceramic tile. A wide ornamental band circles the room, and there is a circular center panel. The field of the floor is divided into eight panels by ornamental tile bands radiating from, the center to the mid-points of the eight bays.

The eight bays of the rotunda walls are identical in architectural treatment above the first story level, varying below the first cornice according as their functions differ. At the lower level rectangular pilasters, finished in heavy textured plaster and painted a dull antique gold, define the bays. The pilasters are topped by thin capitals with plain abacus, enriched ovolo and foliated cymatitun. The southeast, south, and southwest bays contain the entrance doors and the box office, as described above.

The first floor level of the east bay, immediately to the right of the entrance bays, is open except for plain short wall segments at either side. From a triangular landing within the bay, three wide white marble steps cascade beyond the wall plane, and a broad, straight run riser at a 45 degree angle to the mezzanine level. The first-floor level of the north and northeast bays is wholly open except for the square central pier dividing them. Within the bays an irregularly shaped sub-space, whose walls are plain except for display panels and radiator grille at the northwest end, leads from the rotunda to the four pairs of glazed wooden northeast doors giving access to the auditorium foyer.

The almost identical west and northwest bays, to the left of the three entrance bays, are the only walled first-floor portions of the rotunda lobby. Each bay is subdivided into three minor bays and three horizontal zones. The center section of the west bay is occupied by a single-paneled wooden door (to the theatre manager's office)inset below a wooden-paneled "transom." The lower zone of the west bay (interrupted by the central door) is a dado of two rectangular textured plaster panels framed by a ceramic tile base, small vertical wooden panels (doubled at the door), and a chair rail. The middle zone contains two almost square glass-doored display panels flanked by small modified Renaissance Corinthian pilasters with panels elaborately ornamented by bas-relief pendants of musical instruments, tragic and comic masks, and floral motifs. These pilasters are doubled beside the office door. The upper zone, a frieze above a miniature wooden entablature motif, contains ornamental plaster ventilating grilles of arabesque pattern above the display panels and, above the door, a painted plaster tympanum with bas-relief foliated spandrel panels Joined to the cornice above by a foliated cymatium. The central section of the northwest bay is occupied by a grille-fronted dado above which is a semicircular shell-headed niche with a marble sill. (The shell occupies a space corresponding to the painted tympanum above the office door of the west bay.) Otherwise, except for the ornamental metal grilles (masking radiators) in the panels flanking the dado below the niche, the treatment of the two bays is identical.

Above the first story the rotunda lobby is encircled by an entablature whose cornice is supported by heavy ornamental brackets which extend the full depth of the frieze, dividing it into a series of rectangular panels, each ornamented with a rinceau. The cornice cymatium is richly ornamented. Above the cornice is a blind plaster balustrade, with enriched balusters. This is broken by a paneled pedestal above each of the first-story pilasters. In the center of each bay, an elaborately ornamented urn rests on the balustrade railing.

At this "piano nobile" level, the eight rotunda bays are defined by colossal pilasters that continue the vertical axes of the piert below. Each pilaster rests on a base with ornamented torae, the lower ones being foliated, the upper ones spirally banded, and each panel shaft is ornamented by an elaborate bas-relief candelabrum. The modified Renaissance Corinthian capitals have narrow ornamented necks, central open palmette motifs flanked by acanthus-based volutes, and egg-and-dart abaci with fleurons. A full Corinthian entablature supported by the pilasters is lavishly enriched with a rinceau frieze and modlllion cornice with rosettes in its soffit. The entablature is curved to follow the wall but breaks forward in a straight segment over each pilaster.

Each bay of the rotunda wall contains a large, round headed window, similar to the exterior windows except for the omission of the central pediment from the transom bar. The three windows that penetrate to the outside are glazed with clear glass, the five blind windows with mirrors: which for years have been painted over in dull gold with ornamental stencilling in alternating panes.

Foyer - Orchestra and Mezzanine levels: The four paired doors beyond the north and northeast rotunda bays lead to the foyer, a slightly curved space (its "radius projected from the midpoint of the stage floor) 18 feet wide and approximately 105 feet long that extends entirely across the rear of the orchestra level. An open pier-supported seven-bay arcade only partially blocked by glass-topped standee's parapets divides the first floor foyer from the auditorium, and a balustraded well at the three central bays opens the foyer vertically through the mezzanine level. The two end bays are slightly longer than the other five and accommodate stairways. The northwest stairway ascends in two runs turning 45° at a landing, and has a small rectangular well. The upper portion of the marble stairway rising from the rotunda cuts partially across the southeast bay. There is a doorman's closet beneath this stairway and a Janitor's closet beside the lower run of the northwest stairway.

At the mezzanine level, the open well filling the three central bays separates two lounge areas connected by a slightly curving passage that is open on the foyer side between six piers. The southwest-lounge area occupies two foyer bays (except for the space taken by the southeast stairs) and originally also occupied a triangular area, between the foyer and the rotunda wall, that is now partitioned off for an office. The other, smaller, lounge area occupies the rectangular bay between the end of the central well and the northwest stairs. The connecting barrel-vaulted passage runs above the rear rows of the auditorium orchestra seating below. It gives access to vomitoria from each end and the center of the balcony cross aisle. Between the vomitoria are (from left to right) the boy ushers' room entered both from the passage and the men's room; the men's room entered from the smoking room; the smoking room entered from the passage; the girl ushers' room partly under the central vomitorium and entered from the ladies' parlor; the ladies' parlor entered from the passage; and the ladies' room entered from the ladies' parlor. The southeast stairs rise from the mezzanine to the rear of the balcony in two runs, turning 45° at a landing, and the northwest stairs ascend to the balcony rear in two runs in opposite directions with a landing between them. A small triangular storage room is entered by a door under the southeast stairs and has French doors to a small exterior balcony leading to the roof of the entrance marquee. The door to a wedge-shaped closet is in the southwest (and only) wall of the smaller lounge area.

Auditorium: The auditorium is designed to give the effect of an Italian garden. Hence, the walls are treated as exterior building elements, while the blue-painted ceiling, representing the dome of. the sky, is unornamented save for controlled lighting effects. Decorative treatment aside, the auditorium is a simple rectangle (except for the slightly curved rear wall) measuring 107 feet wide by 132 feet deep overall. The side walls are actually parallel but appear to be canted inward where the front of the auditorium is reduced in width by the insertion of triangular elements representing "buildings." The ceiling extends behind those elements to the full rectangular shape of the room. The proscenium opening is 31 feet high by 54 feet, nine inches wide. There is a wide, depressed fixed-floor orchestra pit in front of the stage. The auditorium floor has five aisles and rises gently, the rows of seats being stepped slightly up, from front to rear. The rows curve, but each is laterally level. The single balcony projects deeply into the auditorium and rises at a fairly steep pitch, continuing above the foyer ceiling. It has five stepped aisles and two cross aisles, the lower one slightly forward of mid-depth reached by three vomitoria from the mezzanine passage. The rear balcony corners are reached by stairways at either end of the foyer. The balcony is supported by a large steel truss spanning two heavy round columns at about mid-depth of the outer aisles of the orchestra floor.

The proscenium opening, a broad five-centered arch, rests upon pedestals and is framed by engaged modified Renaissance Corinthian piers supporting the bracketed eaves of a simulated tile roof of almost 60° pitch. The piers have two exposed faces, rest on-vase-and-arabesque-ornamented paneled pedestals, and have paneled candelabrum ornamented shafts. Their capitals are composed of draped winged female figures (possibly representing tutelaries) flanked by acanthus leaves. The eaves project over the orchestra pit on a series of thin, elongated brackets between which are conventionalized foliate panels above an egg-and-dart molding. Similar foliation in the soffit panels enframes round openings for colored lights illuminating the orchestra pit below. An enriched plaster balustrade, between four wreath-ornamented pedestals and a central niche sheltering the statue of a shepherd boy, crowns the "tile roof." The pedestals originally supported leaded glass urn-shaped luminaria. The niche is flanked by Corinthian pilasters and has a scrolled pediment with a central finial. This heavy framing motif encloses the arch itself, which has a concave rinceau-ornamented face bordered by a bound floral molding (top) and an enriched cable molding (bottom), and two speuidrels, each containing a richly framed bas-relief gryphon. The rinceau soffit of the proscenium arch is supported by pilasters that face each other across the opening. They rest on pedestals and have attic bases with enriched torae; low, modified Corinthian capitals; and candalabrum-ornamented paneled shafts. The pedestals below the coved facing of the proscenium arch adjoin the pedestals supporting the inner pilasters and those supporting the outer piers at a 45° angle. These intermediate pedestals, originally displaying mechanical annunciators giving the names of the vaudeville acts on stage, are headed by volited "pediments" formed by extensions of the cymatium capping the entablature motifs of the flanking pedestals.

An asymmetrical garden setting is created by the varied arrangement of the "building" pavilions that occupy the front corners of the auditorium. The major differentiation is limited to their second story level and is determined primarily by a functional factor, the placement of the organ chamber within the southeast wall pavilion, whereas the northwest wall is designed to represent a balustraded garden- terrace with a belvedere of tholos form.

The facade of the one-storied northwest wall pavilion (on the left, as one faces the stage) is composed of three bays crowned by a balustraded entablature. The walls have alternating wide and narrow ashlar courses simulated in plaster, and the distyle in antis central bay opens to an "ashlar-walled" alcove sheltering a simple wrought-iron-railed exit stair. The two columns at the opening have shafts with spirally banded lower halves and upper halves ornamented with bas-relief candelabra. Their modified Renaissance Corinthian capitals have winged female busts instead of the usual volutes. Each of the flanking bays has a niche containing a cast of a classical female statue, Hebe at the left and a bacchante at the right, toward the stage. The niches, flanked by plain pilasters, have console-flanked, three-paneled bases with vase and arabesque ornament. They are headed by shell-ribbed half-domes that spring from single rows of small square coffers. The entablature is recessed slightly above the central bay and is composed of a thin architrave with enriched talon molding, a frieze of anthemia and (centered over each bay) paired cornucopiae, and a cornice with enriched olovo molding and cymatium. The balustrade surmounting the entablature has four arabesque paneled pedestals that originally supported festooned and lidded urn-shaped metal and glass limiinari (at each end) and casts of an Amazon (left) and Aphrodite (right), all now missing.

The major element within the "garden terrace" behind the balustrade is the belvedere, or tempietto, of tholos form. This hexastyle structure measures approximately 12 1/2 feet in diameter by 24 feet to the top of the finial of its dome. The column shafts are lavishly ornamented, having strapwork, lower thirds and reticulate-patterned upper portions. Their modified Composite capitals have inverted helices. The annular entablature has a richly foliated frieze bordered by enriched talon and ovolo moldings, and an enriched cymatium. The entablature supports a very low parapet with an enriched talon molding. Six luminaria like those formerly on the terrace balustrade stand atop the parapet in line with the columns below. The hemispherical dome springing from the parapet has a roof of imitation tiles and terminates in a large finial shaped like a concave-sided and glyph patterned lidded jar. The inside of the entablature repeats its exterior form, except that the frieze is paneled. The ceiling of the dome has ornamented coffers.

The first floor of the two-storied pavilion at the right (as one faces the stage) is almost identical to the northwest wall pavilion described above. It differs primarily in that the central bay is spanned by a console-supported wide segmental arch faced with an enriched talon molding. The archway and its wedge-shaped arabesque-ornamented spandrels support a minor entablature with foliated brackets separating ornamented panels. The archway opens into an "ashlar-walled" alcove containing the foot of an exit stairway and a niche like those described above. The niche originally contained a cast of the Artemis of Gabii, later removed to the right-hand side bay niche. Each side bay niche originally held an elaborate two-handled urn, that on the left a copy of one known as the Medici vase.

To complete the effect of a "garden," the auditorium was originally decorated with great quantities of artificial plants and flowers. The "planter boxes" were filled, the balustrades were entwined with flowering vines, and the tempietto was thickly banked with shrubs. The tops of the "garden walls" held tall imitation cypresses, and the trellised ceiling above the rear half of the balcony was bedecked with trailing vines and strings of lighted paper lanterns. White artificial doves perched on balustrades and cornices throughout the auditoritun, and a stuffed parrot, architect Eberson's "trademark," perched on a ring hanging in the exit hay below the "terrace." These decorations have long been missing from the theatre's now more restrained interior.

The auditorium ceiling, a low elliptical semi-dome extending back to approximately the mid-point of the balcony, is a suspended vault of smooth unornamented plaster. It curves downward to the sides and front of the auditorium and extends beyond the silhouetted tops of the "garden walls," from whence it is lighted from hidden coves. The entire ceiling is painted deep blue to resemble a night sky. The open air effect changes to a semi-enclosed effect at about mid-point above the balcony. This rear fifth of the ceiling is designed to represent a vast pergola with a grid of plaster beams imitating trellis work through which deep blue sky is glimpsed. A nine-foot-wide elliptical arch spans the auditorium at the point where the protrusions containing the side vomitoria of the balcony occur and divides the open "sky" from the "pergola." The arch is ornamented by three rows of square coffers, the center ones being four times the size of the others and enriched by alternating circular moldings and octagonal air grilles.

Lighting in the auditorium was designed to heighten the outdoor effect of the architectural treatment. Low-level lighting was provided by the many illuminated glass urns atop balustrades and "garden walls" throughout the auditorium as well as by lights in the ends of the seating rows and in several of the statuary niches. General lighting effects were achieved by concealed blue floodlights set approximately 18 inches apart around the perimeter of the "sky" dome in a cove at its base. The naturalism of the darkened "sky" was enhanced by electric "stars" set in constellation formations. These sparkling "stars" were composed of small lights in sheet metal cones behind very small apertures drilled in the plaster ceiling. They were individually controlled by intermittent dimmers, creating a continuous twinkling effect. A motorized device near the tempietto projected moving cloud images across the ceiling, and the striking realism was further enhanced by a similar nearby projector casting the image of a circling airplane. A battery of orange floodlights simulated sunrise and sunset effects. Except for the "stars," these special effects have been removed from the theatre.

The Grand Riviera Theatre originally contained a 17-rank Robert Morton pipe organ, controlled by a three-manual console at the left end of the orchestra pit. The pipes were in two adjacent chambers within the southeast pavilion beside the proscenium and spoke through the grilled loggia arcade and the unglazed casement "windows." More recently, the organ has been removed from the theatre.

The seating follows a standard theatre seating design of its period (1925). Cast-iron frames support spring-loaded tilting seats and wooden backs. Each chair back has a gracefully curved top and a central recessed cushion in green upholstery. The row ends are special castings bearing "GR" monograms. There are 1,664 seats in the orchestra and 1,109 in the balcony, making a total seating capacity of 2,773.

Stage and backstage area: The working area of the stage is about 30 by 80 feet. The gridiron is 65 feet above the stage floor.. The floor itself is maple and has two trapdoors, a large one at center stage and a smaller one in the wings beyond stage left. Southeast of the stage there was originally a scene dock through which scenery was lowered by a skidway to backstage from a street level delivery door four and a half feet above. During the 1950s the scene dock was removed to increase the working area of the stage. The lighting control board and the counterweight rail are just beyond stage right. Beyond them, northwest of the stage, are three tiers of rooms comprising eleven dressing rooms and a stage hands' locker room. Beneath the stage are the electric control room, fan room, refrigeration room, organ blower room, chorus dressing room, and the musicians' room (which connects with the orchestra pit).