Latest News – March 2018
Cathedral Of Faith (Catedral de la Fe), long term tenants of the State theatre, moved out in early 2018. The Broadway Theatre Group (owners of the State, Palace, Tower, & Los Angeles theatres, all on Broadway) are currently upgrading facilities at the State to cater for movie projection.
The owners of the State Theatre are working to find a theatrical tenant for the Theatre, and are currently talking to a number of organizations. LAHTF will continue to advocate for the best theatrical use for this important historic theatre.
About the State Theatre
Opened as Loew’s State in November 1921, the theatre was Loew’s west coast showcase movie palace, later becoming the downtown Los Angeles home for first-run MGM movies. It is the largest theatre on Broadway by audience capacity (originally report as 2,450, now approximately 2,000).
The State was designed by Charles Peter Weeks and William Day, of architectural firm Weeks & Day, in a Spanish Renaissance style, and is incorporated into a splendid 12-story Beaux Arts office block called the United Building. Situated at the intersection of downtown Los Angeles’ busiest retail streets of the early 1920s, the building extends half a block along 7th St and one-third of a block along Broadway, and is the city’s largest brick-clad building. The theatre originally boasted two marquees with entrances on both Broadway and 7th, however the 7th St entrance was closed in 1936.
The auditorium is vast and virtually square in shape, with a lavish Spanish Rococo style ceiling. A particular highlight is the Billiken figure occupying a niche above the center of the proscenium (the Billiken, as a good luck charm, sprang from the height of the “Mind-Cure” craze in the United States at the start of the twentieth century). The State also boasts a sensational fire curtain, by Armstrong-Powers, depicting a futuristic fantasy city of onion-domed towers surrounded by planets, stars, and comet trails.
In 1925 the State’s original Möller organ was replaced with a 3-manual, 13-rank Wurlitzer organ, and at the same time the vaudeville operation was turned-over to Fanchon and Marco. The State became one of their flagship venues alongside the Paramount further up the street on Broadway.
In 1929 a Bakersfield act called The Gumm Sisters played at the State, featuring a lead singer who earned the nickname “Leather Lungs” for to her ability to be heard clearly at the rear of the 125ft deep auditorium. As the Great Depression took hold and vaudeville declined (vaudeville ceased at the State in the mid 1930s) the Gumm Sisters moved to Culver City to appear in experimental Technicolor musicals, and “Leather Lungs” changed her name to Judy Garland.
Operation of the theatre was turned-over to United Artists in 1949 and the theatre’s name changed to the State Theatre. In early 1963 the State was acquired by Metropolitan Theatres and subsequently featured many general release movies dubbed into Spanish. Metropolitan Theatres closed the State in 1997. In 1998 the theatre was leased by church group Cathedral Of Faith (Catedral de la Fe), who occupied the theatre for 20 years.
The State is owned by The Broadway Theatre Group, who also own the Palace, the Los Angeles and Tower theatres, all on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.
Photo by Mike Hume