State Theater

2616 W. State Street,
Milwaukee, WI 53208

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bryceis7
bryceis7 on February 26, 2014 at 5:46 am

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.

clarkw
clarkw on March 28, 2012 at 6:57 am

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.

rekrab
rekrab on February 6, 2012 at 1:44 am

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.

kstan48
kstan48 on June 21, 2011 at 10:04 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) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nE0psGDGaE

pauldrewry
pauldrewry on November 4, 2010 at 8:31 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.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on June 12, 2010 at 1:54 am

(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.

NuclearArt
NuclearArt on August 26, 2009 at 9:43 pm

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

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 12, 2006 at 5:52 pm

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.

JimRankin
JimRankin on August 12, 2006 at 9:15 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:
http://backwhen.com/whereare.asp?WhereID=25 . 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.”

JimRankin
JimRankin on August 12, 2006 at 8:52 am

Here is DavidH’s comment which had been posted on the VARSITY’s page:
Re: THE STATE THEATER
In the 1920s' silent movie days Hildegarde Sell who went on to be THE INCOMPARABLE HILDEGARDE played the piano at the State. Hildegarde who was billed as the ultimate chanteuse had a popular national radio program THE RALIEGH ROOM in the 1940s and because of her affected mannerism was the butt of many jokes. She also wrote the best seller Over 50 So What?
posted by DavidH on Aug 11, 2006 at 6:56am

JimRankin
JimRankin on September 21, 2005 at 7:06 pm

The STATE was a modest single story affair with a small lobby and 4-aisle auditorium on one level. The specifications of the small organ are unknown, but the space for any chambers was very small. There was never a stagehouse, so only a platform served below the screen upon the back wall, but a modest proscenium arch held a single line of draperies. It was typical box beams and pilasters decor with the wall panels being from seat back level to ceiling of panels of a damask fabric. The building had been reseated at least once. Behind the mansard roof over the projection room over the lobby, the remainder of the buiding is of cinder block construction. A scandal about a local athlete and a stripper there, ruined its faint image in the 1980s. One can only hope that this decaying neighborhood will see some enhancement if this movie house which was never a movie palace, is revived.

lilpc
lilpc on April 26, 2005 at 1:16 pm

I got the information from the City of Milwaukee website, under Dept of City Development, Near West Side Project Updates:

Renovation plans are coming along for the historic theater building located on 2612 W. State Street. The Redevelopment Authority and Common Council have selected and approved the Nigerian Community to oversee the renovation. New uses will include a nightclub, restaurant and meeting hall.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 14, 2005 at 2:40 pm

The State Theater operated from 1915 – 1955. The Film Daily Yearbook, 1941 gives a seating capacity of 1,206 and it was operated by Fox Wisconsin Circuit under the subsidiary Fox City Theatres Corp.

The architect was Frank Andree and it is noted it was equipped with a Kimble theatre organ.

It has been in use as a nightclub since (at least) the early 1980’s.