Movie Night at the Dawn Theater in Hillsdale

A Michigan documentary, “Black and Blue”, was playing at the Dawn Theater in Hillsdale. It was being hosted by the director of the movie, so I decided to make my first trip to the new Dawn Theater. The film was about the University of Michigan football team during the 1930s and the racial issues of the era. There was a large contingent of Michigan Alumni in attendance many dressed in maize and blue.
Having never been there before, I was eager to see what the historic theater had to offer. The box office is just inside the front door. On this night, it was manned by a local judge who happens to have attended the U of M. I was greeted, paid the admission, and was introduced to the manager, Peggy Williams. She was kind enough to give me a grand tour of her great old facility.
A concession stand sells popcorn, candy, and beverages. The beverages are not limited to just soft drinks. Beer and alcohol are also available to adults with proper I.D. They do not sell food, but have agreements with local establishments that will deliver dinner. Here’s to You Pub and Grub around the corner has burgers and bar food. Domino’s and Pizza Hut can deliver pizza. There is theater seating in the balcony, the main floor has 3 tiers of tables.
Stunt3 Media specializes in bringing forgotten Michigan sports history back to life. The prelude to the movie included a brief history of Carolyn King, the girl from Ypsilanti who was featured on the nightly news during the Watergate era for her quest to play Little League Baseball at a time when girls weren’t allowed to play sports. Another story was about the greatest Little League Baseball player of all time. Art “Pinky” Deras led his Hamtramck team to a winning streak never seen before, or since.

“Black and Blue” is the story about two famous Michigan Football players. Willis Ward went on to become a probate judge, the other player was President Gerald Ford. Long before the Civil Rights era, black athletes played collegiate football at Michigan. After consecutive NCAA national football titles, Michigan sought to play against teams outside of the Big 10 Conference. Georgia Tech agreed to play, but only if the black players wouldn’t play. This film is about that controversy.


I had a great time at the Dawn Theater. Films are an occasional feature. Live music is their staple business. Most weekends feature Rock, Blues, and Jazz artists live on stage. John Primer and American Idol winner Kris Allen are a couple of the artists who have been booked to play in Hillsdale. The theater is also available for meetings, private parties, and weddings. It is located about 10 minutes from the Munro House in Jonesville and features the area’s best night life on weekends.



Mike Venturini

“Life is good in Jonesville”


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