215 Abbott Road,
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The State Theatre was opened November 3, 1927. For a theatre built at that time, the State Theatre in East Lansing had little to offer in the way of opulence or elegance, but may have given some idea of what life was like in East Lansing in the era before Michigan State Colllege became mammoth Michigan State University. It was a fixture on Abbott Road very near its intersection with Grand River Avenue for many decades.
It was, like so many theatres in Michigan cities outside of Detroit, a part of the W.S. Butterfield circuit right up to its closure and demolition.
When I was a student at MSU in the late-1960’s and early-1970s, it was regarded as the art theatre for the greater Lansing area, but it was evident during my visits to the campus as an alumnus that its programming had switched to mainstream fare by the mid-1970’s. The last film I recall seeing there was “Saturday Night Fever”.
It had a very small lobby; as I recall, its auditorium was painted primarily an odd shade of green with some very old stenciled decoration with two blocks of (rather uncomfortable)seats separated by a center aisle. I doubt if the theatre ever had any sort of remodeling or makeover in its history. Although it had a stage, one could easily imagine watching a 1930’s-era black and white film there, projected onto a picture sheet with the dimensions of the Academy frame.
In its last years, the theatre became very run down on the inside; colleagues of mine who lived in the area stopped going there especially after an incident involving falling plaster and occasional mice sightings. It finally closed and was demolished in 1984; little or no effort was made to save or preserve it. A bank parking lot now occupies the space.
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