State Theater

2616 W. State Street,
Milwaukee, WI 53208

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State Theater

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The State Theater was opened in December 1915. In 1930 it was taken over by Warner Bros Circuit Management Corp. It was still open in 1956, but had closed by 1957. The shell of the theater stood closed for a long time. It most recently held a night club. In the early-2000’s it was in the process of being remodeled. The State Theater was destroyed by a fire on February 9, 2017.

Contributed by Ken Edwards

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

JimRankin on August 12, 2006 at 1:15 am

A PS to DavidH’s item about Miss Sell is that she played a number of Milw. theatres at the piano of the ‘pit band’. It is not clear whether she began her singing career here, but there is a biography of her with a publicity photo of her in her pro days here: . She was 97 years at that time, but died about a year ago. Larry Widen has a more recent publicity shot of her in his 1986 “Milwaukee Movie Palaces” which is to be reprinted next year, enlarged, as “Silver Screens.”

kencmcintyre on August 12, 2006 at 9:52 am

I drove by this theater a few weeks ago. I have a digital photo, but I’m still working on transferring those here. The ground floor was retail, including a Chinese resturant, if I recall correctly. The neigborhood was not that great.

NuclearArt on August 26, 2009 at 1:43 pm

It opened in late December 1915 and there was a story about it in the Milwaukee Journal of December 19, 1915.

LouisRugani on June 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

(April 19, 1930)
Theatre Deal Goes In Effect At Midnight

Warner Brothers To Take Over Sheboygan Theatre And Other Theatres In Wisconsin

It was unofficially announced today that Warner Bros, one of the leading film companies in the United States, has taken over the Wisconsin branch of the Universal Theatrical Enterprises chain of theatres, and that the concern will assume ownership at 12 o'clock midnight tonight and will start operating these theatres Sunday.
Theatres included are the Sheboygan theatre, which was erected at a cost of $600,000 and which was opened to the public in 1928; Venetian theatre at Racine, Kenosha theatre at Kenosha, and all the Universal theatres in Milwaukee except the Alhambra. Among the Milwaukee theatres are the Lake, State, Downer, Juneau, Nation and Kosciuszko.
The deal, which has been in the course of consummation during the past week, involves millions of dollars in theatre values.
Manager K. G. Wood of the Sheboygan theatre today would not make official comment as to the completion of negotiations, but admitted that he was notified late Friday to take a complete inventory of his theatre, and to check meters at the close of business tonight.
The Sheboygan theatre is one of the most up to date in the state chain. It is equipped with the latest Western electric sound equipment, with new changes and installations made from time to time as improvements are made in the sound facilities. The theatre in Spanish atmospheric design has a seating capacity of 1,600.

pauldrewry on November 4, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Later years it was known as the Electric Ballroom, which became an important role player in Milwaukee’s music sceen. Some of the acts to have performed were; Elvis Costello, AC/DC & Todd Rundgren. Later it’s name was changed to the Palms, hosting such acts as the Police, Metalica, Poco, Pretenders, the Cars and U2. Anyone have dates for when the ballroom open and when the Palms closed? Any photos? Judging from the description, a stage must have been added with a dressing room to the theater. I never had the chance to see any shows there.

kstan48 on June 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Here is a video I completed a few years ago on the State Street theater. Thanks to all those who assisted in the background information.

State Street Theater (Video: Youtube) –

rekrab on February 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

In 1950 Peter Rehwaldt and I were 2nd year students at nearby Concordia College and both loved and played the college organ. Peter negotiated the removal of the non operating theater pipe organ and transported it to the attic of his home located just off campus. His Dad was a Concordia professor. We did not get anywhere started on reassembly due to Peter’s death from pneumonia in 1951. His family forfeited the organ to a scrap dealer. I don’t remember the organ builder name and I have no pictures of it; only memories. Maybe someone has info on the State Theater organ.

clarkw on March 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm

The State organ was a Kimball of 2 manuals and about 6 ranks. We used to have the Solo windchest from it plus a few other parts in the warehouse with the Oriental Kimball, so some of it survived.

bryceis7 on February 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

In the late 70’s and early 80’s I worked in an auto body supply store on the southwest corner of 27th and State. We attended a few concerts at the Electric Ballroom and Palms. I also did some fill in work as a bartender at the tavern to the east of the theater. At that time it was “Wally’s”. A typical beer and shot joint. Open early in the morning for the 3rd shifters and stayed open till closing. It was also one of the hangouts (and I got to know) some of the AWA “second rate” wrestlers like Bob Amel, Frank Hill and sometimes Kenny Jay.

davidcoppock on February 13, 2017 at 2:58 am

“Has any of the building survived the fire?”

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