The historic Bonstelle Theatre was once the home of the famous acting company run by the ground-breaking female actor-manager Jessie Bonstelle. Its stage and seating is reminiscent of a Broadway theatre. Restored by the university, this building annually produces a series of plays and musical productions.
It was originally built in 1902 as the Temple Beth-El, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. When the Temple Beth El congregation built another building farther north along Woodward in 1922, they sold the building at Woodward and Eliot to Jessie Bonstelle for $500,000. Bonstelle hired architect C. Howard Crane to convert the building into a theater, naming the resulting building the Bonstelle Playhouse. In 1928, the Bonstelle Playhouse became the Detroit Civic Theatre, and in the 1930s became the Mayfair Motion Picture Theater. In 1951, Wayne State University rented the building as a performance space for its theater company, and purchased it outright in 1956, renaming it the Bonstelle Theatre in honor of Jessie Bonstelle.