General view (T. Heggland photo)
Bijou Theatre Building
1722-1726 Main Street, Marinette, Marinette County
Date of Construction: 1905
The earliest theaters used for the showing of motion pictures were often housed in buildings constructed for other purposes. Such is the history of the Bijou Theatre. It was built as a combination retail store and vaudeville theater in 1905 for Frank Lauerman, Marinette's most prominent retail merchant. Lauerman's new Classical Revival style-influenced building was initially a success; however, its construction coincided with a nationwide trend away from live vaudeville productions, hastened by the advent of motion pictures. Consequently, after a few years the Bijou was transformed into a movie theater, but its small size (383 seats) put it at a disadvantage when newer and larger movie theaters were built nearby.
By 1918, there were eight movie theaters operating in the twin cities of Marinette and Menominee, Michigan. As a result, in 1924 the Bijou building was transformed into commercial office and retail space. This use continues to the present. The Bijou is now one of Marinette's most intact early twentieth century commercial buildings. It is also the sole survivor of the eight theaters that once competed for the area's movie audience.
The building is used for private businesses. Please respect the privacy of the tenants.