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This theater was known as the RKO Orpheum from 1930 to 1932.
According to The (Tacoma) News Tribune on Jan. 9, 1949:
Tacoma Narrows Theatre was about to open, the movie theater’s first movies would be “Northwest Stampede” in color, with Joan Leslie, Robert Craig and Jack Oakie; and “Give My Regards to Broadway” in color. This new movie theater was owned by Angelo and Regina Pecchia of Eatonville. The theater was located in the Highlands Community Center building on Sixth Avenue. It was said to be a modernistic showhouse, with a full confection and soft drink bar, ample parking, huge 600 seat auditorium with “Kroehler” push-back opera seats and a soundproof infant’s crying room.
I am grateful that Harlequin took over this one-time movie gem. When I attended school in Thurston County in the early 1990s, my friends and I made many treks to the State to see movies for $1. While we loved seeing movies for cheap, we hated walking into theaters that smelled like urine. The seats were falling apart, and our feet would stick to the floor. And we were afraid of what filth we couldn’t see in the dark. But then we were so sad when the theater closed.
As a theater student, however, I had the good fortune of touring the theater one afternoon when Harlequin was considering buying it. I got to walk in the projection booths and see areas of the State I’d never seen. Oh, the potential! (I also got to see some of that filth my friends and I were afraid of. Yuck. And I got to see how really poorly the “tri-plexing” was done.)
It’s such a treat now to see plays at the State Theater, to see how it’s been lovingly restored and to see this wonderful space being used at all.