WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) – By late Tuesday afternoon, demolition crews had torn through the entryway and part of the lobby of Studio 28 in Wyoming.
The once-iconic movie theater opened in 1965 and became the world’s first 20-theater multiplex in 1988. The building had been deteriorating since it closed and was condemned in December 2013. Earlier this month, owners said it would be torn down. That process began Tuesday morning.
Sitting in cars lined up as though they were at a drive-in theater, people watched the demolition and snapped photos. Many took a brick from a pile that workers set aside to serve as souvenirs.
“Kind of sad to see it go, so I thought I’d swing over here and watch a little bit of it,” resident Judy Fry said. “I had to have a piece of rock over there — just something to remember it by.”
The theater held memories for many.
“When I was young, I always went to Studio 28,” Adrian Dang, who owns a nearby business, said. “It was one of the best places to go.”
At its peak in the late 1990s, the theater drew in more than 1.7 million customers each year. But increasing operations costs and dwindling attendance caused it to close in 2008.
“I’ve been watching it sit vacant for about six years. It’s sad enough. Now it’s going to be completely gone. I’m going to miss it,” Dang said. “At one time it made the top five nicest theaters in the nation and now it’s gone.”
Bruce Riemersma lives nearby. He said he and his wife went to Studio 28 at least 30 times a year when it was still open.
“I heard they were going to demolish it, and I’ve been going to this movie theater ever since it was built,” he said. “I miss it, because now you’ve got to go miles and miles and miles away.”
City officials hope someone will buy the property once the demolition is complete. The City of Wyoming has created a “28 West” master plan — an effort to create a walkable downtown area along 28th Street between Burlingame and Clyde Park avenues.
A flea market that has been held in the Studio 28 parking lot at 1350 28th St. SW will continue this summer.