Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Caille, A. Arthur

Auguste Arthur Caille was a producer of turn-of-the-century coin operated machines, marine motors, and an early investor in movie theatres in Detroit. Born April 1, 1867 in Detroit and educated in Owosso, Michigan, Caille and his brother Adolph began their careers in Saginaw, Michigan. The brothers had an aptitude for mechanics and a hand for craftsmanship and produced many machines that would be found in popular “penny arcades,” including games, slot machines, and nickelodeons. In 1895, the Caille brothers moved their operation to Detroit. The Caille Brothers Company produced over 250 different machines and were one of the top manufacturers of such devices in the world, as well as one of the largest employers in Detroit. They also produced practical equipment like cash registers and scales, and later even marine engines through the Caille Perfection Motor Company.

Caille saw the lucrative possibilities of the new moving pictures phenomenon and entered the business. He opened Detroit’s first commercial movie house, The Casino, on Monroe Street in March 1906. On opening day, this converted storefront seated 260 patrons who paid five cents admission to see “The Train Wreckers,” a ten-minute adventure film. Caille partnered with John Kunsky, and the two opened additional downtown and neighborhood theaters. In later years, Caille sold his interest in the company to Kunsky. Caille then became president of the Majestic and Maxine Theater Company. He partnered with Henry Guthard and purchased the Norwood and Fine Arts Theaters, both on Woodward Avenue. Later theaters in their chain included the Marx and Majestic theaters, both in Wyandotte, Michigan, and Detroit’s Ferry Field, located at Grand River and West Grand Boulevard.

Caille died on January 2, 1916, at the age of 48. His death occurred just two weeks after his return from his honeymoon and was attributed to heart failure. The Caille Bros. Company production continued after his death but was sold by Adolph Caille to Fuller-Johnson Co. in 1937.