The property for Center Campus was purchased in 1967. The circa 1924 barn at the corner of Hall Road and Garfield was put into service by Macomb Community College as Macomb Theatre At-The-Barn in 1969. The unexpected lighting-fast demise of the Barn in July of 1977 brought to a head a great number of issues which merited discussion by the College community. The Barn's closing brought in a substantial number of letters from patrons. The tone of each of these letters without exception was positive, supportive, and hopeful, with everyone wishing the Barn staff success in straightening out the theatre's problems. These patrons made clear their attraction to the Barn, and many also made the point that a new facility for the Barn program would have to provide the same intimacy that the Barn offered.
Those who described their feelings were pleased by the close proximity of actor to audience. Many indicated that others had expressed interest in the program but refused to attend due to the facility's lack of plumbing and ventilation. Historically, the theatre was sold out - indeed in one season more Barn subscription tickets were sold than any subscription-oriented arts institution in the area.
There was discussion of moving the Barn operation into a larger theater built as part of a fine arts center under the directorship of Macomb Community College. Careful examination disclosed a number of concerns:
- Technical problems - A house of the size in discussion (anything from 500 to 2,000 seats) would require a more sophisticated technical set-up and most certainly involve the hiring of a more professional staff.
- Marketing - The problems of developing an audience that could consistently fill a 450-500 seat house for an average of ten performances.
- Or - A new 225-275 seat Barn theatre, properly winterized, would serve a number of needs both for the College and the community. The College could profit substantially from the leasing of the structure to numerous institutions. The report read: "It is hoped that a responsible committee will examine these and other suggestions with an open mind before a commitment to the 'bigger is better' philosophy prevents an economically sound and practically simple idea to go undeveloped."
During the time between the closing of the Barn Theatre and the dedication of Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, Macomb Community College presented cultural programs at the student centers of South and Center campuses. These cultural programs included special events, an education series, a Friday night film series, musical productions, summer series, and ethics action workshops.