49 Market Street,
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The magnificent State Theatre, located in the heart of downtown Sydney, opened on 7th June 1929 with Emil Jennings in Ernst Lubitsch’s “The Patriot”. Seating was provided for 2,775. It was then known as ‘The British Empire’s Greatest Theatre’. Paul Dunlavy was the debonir genius of the 4-manual console of the Wurlitzer organ, the largest outside of America. The State Theatre Orchestra was conducted by Will Prior.
Rising ten floors above the theater is the Gothic-style State Theatre Office Building, headquarters of the Greater Union Theatre Circuit. Just as they did with the plans for Sydney’s Capitol Theatre in 1927, Union Theatres boss Stuart Doyle and Australian architect Henry White, returned from the USA with sketches for the new $AU800,000 theater.
What wasn’t mentioned was that American architect John Eberson did the original plans and sketches for the State Theatre in association with Henry White. For all intents and purposes in Australia, it was believed that it was solely designed by White.
During the 1980’s, the main auditorium was restored, although the Wurlitzer is still waiting for $AU350,000 in funds for some tender-loving-care. Hanging above the three-tiered auditorium are thirteen chandeliers, surmounted by a three-and-one-half ton crystal chandelier, the second largest cut-crystal chandelier in the world, which is suspended from the theater’s golden dome.
The Gothic style entrance hall has life-size figures of King Arthur and St. George who greet those who enter. The main foyer boasts a grand sweeping marble staircase, with mirrored and tapestry draped walls.
The foyer area is used for filming TV commercials and some feature films have used the magnificent setting. The theater has been classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW Division) for its high architectural quality and its essential heritage to the state of New South Wales.
Unfortunately, the theater no longer operates as a full-time cinema, but they do screen the occasional film for festivals. At other times it is used for stage, concert, rock presentations, and as a convention center. The State is a self-working venue and self-guided tours using an Acoustiguide handset are available, except Sunday and Monday, or when the theater is being used.
In 2011, work began converting the State Theatre Office building into a hotel. In early-2012, the Wurlitzer organ was shipped back to the USA for refurbishment.
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