State Theater

20-24 W. 7th Street,
Chester, PA 19013-4203

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Opened in September 1939 by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. The theater was built on the site of the old State Theatre and the still older Opera House. It had a modern exterior and a luxurious marble-paneled lobby inside. It seated 750 people downstairs and 250 in the balcony. Currently used as an Islamic Center.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on December 21, 2008 at 7:08 pm

??? Please forgive me if i am being dense here….!! Maybe it’s just me. So we have established that the address in the header is incorrect? If so, then has the building been demolished? (We went by the address listed here and found what appeared to be a vacant lot. But if the address is wrong, then we wasted an opportunity to check it out.)

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 21, 2008 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Lost. I still was, until I read the link you posted as “Source” completely to the very bottom.

It ends with the quote: “All the theaters are gone now, but the Boyd and Roxy are beautifully utilized as churches.”

Since the State Theater is not included as one of the two theaters remaining, we can assume it was torn down. And that Ken Mc’s link of the vacant Islamic Center is most likely the building next door to where the State Theater was, and is not the former State Theater itself. Regardless of address. Given the identical roofline in the `60’s picture and the Islamic one.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on December 21, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Thank you both. And thank you David for admitting to your confusion as well, at least i wasn’t the only one! : )

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Though to perpetuate the confusion, the Islamic Center is also pictured within the same link that says the theatres are all gone except two.

Other than a perfect example of the two rooflines pictured above each other, I’m still confused. Is there a reason the Islamic Center isn’t included in “beautifully utilized as churches”? Or is it an admission that it is indeed not the same building, only pictured with it.

Lost Memory’s “Source” link is still the BEST source, for what was and is now. I defer to Lost Memory for the final determination, if the status should be changed from Religous Services to Demolished. The wrong address is a given. Especially since the town of Chester seemed to change things around at one point or another.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on December 21, 2008 at 8:08 pm

Well, I reread the “Source” again, and somehow I missed that it pretty clearly says “the State Theatre currently houses the Islamic Center of Chester”. So I guess in Chester’s eyes, it’s still standing.

I was wrong,(a lot today), in that the picture above the Islamic Center in the “Source” link, is from the another angle. And the two rooflines are not as easily comparible.

It is the very top Old Chester PA link that has the `60’s photo with roofline.

I personally am still suspect that the Islamic Center is actually in a/the old neighboring building. But the Chester website folks should definately know better than I.

I think it’s time for my nap.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 20, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Here is a March 1970 ad from the Delaware County Daily Times:
http://tinyurl.com/oaogfv

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on September 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm

(Chester Times, Friday, December 2, 1938)

WARNER BROS. TO BUILD NEW THEATRE HERE
State Theatre, Closing Tonight, Will Be Demolished

Delaware County’s finest motion picture theatre soon will be a reality, upon the site of the present State Theatre, on Seventh Street, beween Sproul Street and Edgmont Avenue.
Announcement of this was made this afternoon by A. J. Vanni, zone
manager of the Warner Brothers, who came here from Philadelphia to
consult with local Stanley-Warner officials.

The State Theatre will close tonight. Demolition of the famous showhouse, which in turn was first Hargreaves Grand Opera House
then Washburn’s Theatre, then the State Theatre, will begin immediately.

Architects already are at work on the plans and construction will be
rushed to permit the formal opening of the showhouse in the spring.
According to the Warner Brothers announcement, the new movie theatre
will represent the last word in motion picture showhouses. The
building with a balcony will accommodate 1400 patrons; it will be
fireproof, air-conditioned, and will have accommodations found only in New York and other metropolitan theatres.

The Warner Brothers hold title not only to the present State Theatre
site but the extensive plot in the rear, now used as a parking lot. This lot extends from Wood Street to the building of R. Chester Spencer, on East Eighth street, and is one of the most valuable midtown sites.

Entrance to the new theatre will be on East Seventh street. At the
present time there is an alleyway between Wood and Sproul streets, separating the State Theater site from the parking lot, but it is believed little difficulty will be encountered in securing this area for private use.

Announcement by the Warner Brothers of the new theatre verified
rumors which have been heard for some months that a new theatre
would be built on that site. It was felt that the present times were
propitious for such a venture and after some conferences several weeks ago in New York, it was decided to go ahead.

Famous Theatre

The State Theatre is one of the best known showhouses in this section
of the country. When Thomas Hargreaves built the Grand Opera House, stock companies played there. Middle-aged men and women remember dainty little Irene Myers, Chester deVonde and other stalwarts of the stock companies. Musical comedies starred there.
Actors and actresses who gained high fame later on played here; Powell, the Magician; Houdini and hundreds of others famous in American stage annals were seen there.

When Leon Washburn gave up his Uncle Tom’s Cabin road shows and settled down to the show business in a theatre, the place operated first for vaudeville and for a while, for traveling shows. Later motion pictures were secured and eventually the Warner Brothers took over.

The building was erected in 1890 and was on the site of a skating rink. The opening date was October 20 1890, with John A. Stevens presenting “Wife for Wife”. No building in city perhaps has more memories than the old Opera House, as it is remembered by many thousands. In its place will be the modern showhouse of the cinema, of a grandeur and comfort never dreamed at the turn of the century.

atmos
atmos on September 28, 2009 at 8:30 am

Architect was indeed John Eberson.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Should also have an aka of Washburn Theater.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Here is a November 1929 ad from the Chester Times:
http://tinyurl.com/yet4nmq

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