The Hilberry Theatre was was completed in 1917 for the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Field, Hinchman and Smith – predecessor to the architectural firm of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls – designed it in a Classical Roman Ionic style. In 1961, Wayne State University acquired the building and converted the auditorium into an open stage theater. Named after the president of the university, Clarence B. Hilberry, the theater was created to house a graduate repertory company, which opened its first season in 1964.
Downstairs at the Hilberry Theatre, located in what was the basement, the university built an intimate workshop theatre, later named, the Studio Theatre at the Hilberry.