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State Theatre

1312-14 E Broadway
Alton IL

Closed
Record #10077  
 Opened: 1939
 Closed: 1955
 Current Use:
 Demolished:
Capacity: 530 seats
Architect(s):
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

OPENED: Monday, 12/25/39; 12:30 p.m. "In Name Only;" "Forged Passport;" plus shorts like "Ferdinand the Bull," "Popular Science Wonders," and "Yankee Doodle Goes To Town." CLOSED: 8/2/55. "Crest of the Wave;" "The Bob Mathias Story." CAPACITY: 530. SEATS, CARPETING, FIXTURES: National Theatre Supply (St. Louis). ORNAMENTAL METAL: Arthur Schaffner.

Harry H. Beck and David Glover’s Christmas present to their town in 1939 was "Alton’s finest equipped and designed amusement spot -- the best money could buy!" The Alton Telegraph noted that the new State Theatre had "taken the place of some old time buildings which stood at [Broadway and Monument] for many years." The seats were well-spaced and staggered, so no patron would be seated directly behind another. One row was equipped with hearing aids.

Opening day was met with a big snowstorm and "the heaviest toll of accidents ever known in Alton and its immediate area at the Yule season." Still, what else is there to do on Christmas Day? Altonians turned up in force for the grand opening, and the proprietors apologized in the following day’s newspaper for having to turn so many people away.

The State was the third new movie house in Alton in four years, and the coming of television thinned the cinemas’ ranks somewhat. A labor dispute (see Norside) didn’t help, either, and when three of the picture shows shut down in protest in spring of 1954, the State took the longest to get back on its feet. Though ads were run on May 6 to announce the next day’s re-opening, the next day’s paper found the management issuing a retraction.

When the State finally re-opened on New Year’s Eve, manager Vernon Miller alerted the public to its new decor and wider screen, but that wasn’t enough to keep the theatre in business. Reduced to screening year-old movies, it succumbed on August 2.

The building apparently sat idle for a couple of years, and Hornsey Moving and Storage / North American Van Lines moved in around 1959. The State was listed as vacant again by 1961. Eventually, the shell was converted into storage space for National Auto Salvage, and the facade was entirely boarded up until it no longer resembled a theatre. The motorcycle shop that took over National is using the State for storage too, and the glance I was able to take through a garage door carved in the building’s side indicates that there’s still some evidence within of its theatrical past.



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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 1/1/2006.

 
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