Pix Theatre serves as a focal point to local arts and community
activities. Restored by our city Downtown Development
Authority in 1997, the Pix Theatre is a 306-seat
theatre that showcases musical and theatrical performances,
second run film showings and is available for rental.
How about a unique setting for your next special event?
Pix Theatre History
Constructed in 1941,
the PIX Theatre was built by George Smith who began his "show
business" life in a production of Uncle Tom's Cabin at the
White Opera House. When the show went on the road, 18-year-old George
went with it. Before long the troupe ended up broke in Chicago and
George returned to Lapeer.
Next, George began playing in
theater orchestras in Flint and Saginaw where he
met and married Vera, the pianist. In 1914, the
Smiths opened a small movie theatre next door to
what would become the PIX Theatre. Business was
good, with tickets selling for five and ten cents.
By 1921, the Smiths were ready to expand their
business, so they built the Lyric Theatre - the
fanciest show house around. Silent movies reigned
supreme, accompanied by Vera on the piano until
1928 when "talkies" came to town.
Early in 1940, with movies at the peak of popularity,
it was rumored that Harry Hobolth, owner of the
Deluxe Theater in neighboring Imlay City, was
planning to build a new theater in Lapeer. George
Smith - not to be outdone by the competition
- quickly set to work locating a site for a new,
modern movie house that he would name the PIX
George bought the Wattles Bank
property and set to work building a theater that
would serve the community for decades to come.
The PIX opened one year later on April 9, 1941.
Its flashing marquee and porcelain enamel panels
were the pride of the community. Prior to the Grand
Opening presentation of The Bad Man, starring Wallace
Beery, Lionel Barrymore and Ronald Reagan, George
Smith declared the policy at the PIX would be "strict adherence to just one aim...the finest of entertainment," and promised never to inflict upon his audiences "such parasitical annoyances and BUNK NIGHT, BANGO, SCREAMO and
- most important of all -never a double bill!"
From 1941 to the mid-1950s, Smith
operated both the PIX and Lyric theaters, but rarely
at the same time. The Lyric was a larger and grander
theater, but the PIX had a state-of-the-art cooling
system (which in 1941 meant cold water dumped from
a well through a series of coils to chill the air
before it was blown in to the theater). In the
1950s, with the advent of television, Smith closed
the Lyric Theatre for good. After years of private
ownership, the PIX closed in 1996 and was purchased
by the Downtown Development Authority.
Today, the PIX still retains its
original art deco facade and marquee, and many
of the interior elements were retained during the
1997 $325,000 renovation.