State Theater

706 C Avenue,
Central City, NE 68826

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State Theatre, 2009

Opened in 1916 as the Martha Ellen Auditorium and named after the daughter of Colonel William Shelton. The Martha Ellen Auditorium presented live performances and vaudeville. The theater was later renamed the State Theater and switched to motion pictures. The main floor has been updated with new seating but the balcony is pretty much the original, (the stairs, balcony rails, and seats).

The State Theater was converted into two screens showing first run attractions at reasonable prices, but had been closed by late-2014. By 2017 it had reopened screening movies at weekends. The State Theater has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988 #88000944.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Robert Allen
Robert Allen on November 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Boy! I hope they have painted that building.

Chris1982 on October 29, 2014 at 2:08 am

The State Theatre is permanently closed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

The September 28, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World describes the Martha Ellen Auditorium’s house organ:

“Another forceful and attractive organ is issued by C. F. Marquis, owner of the Martha-Ellen Auditorium. Central City, Neb. The organ is called the Martha-Ellen Screen Magazine, and one glance proves its claim to being a miniature ‘magazine.’

“The work has twelve pages, with cover, and is filled throughout with up-to-the-minute news and comments on late productions, together with the usual calendar of coming stars and their plays. In the issue of August 27 Mr. Marquis devotes the entire front cover to an elaborate announcement of Mae Marsh’s appearance in ‘The Cinderella Man,’ one of Goldwyn’s successful first-year releases. Cuts of other Goldwyn stars and advance notices of their coming productions are arranged prominently throughout the magazine.

“Free tickets of admission to those who discover a word spelled backwards, is featured as a circulation booster.”

The hyphenated version of the theater’s name was apparently used in its early years, as the same form appears in Motography of July 14, 1917, which said that L.J. Cooper had taken over management of the house and would operate it as a moving picture theater. Also, the author of the MPW item describing the magazine presumably had a copy and was taking the name, complete with hyphen, from the masthead.

Another interesting item I came across provides evidence that the 1916 building was not the first hall of this name. A 1908 publication by the Nebraska Society of Friends (Quakers) said that a meeting had been held in the Martha-Ellen Auditorium in Central City.

John_Lincoln on May 22, 2015 at 10:07 am

There is currently a group trying to put together a non profit to restore this theatre.

retroalli on August 16, 2017 at 12:44 pm

The website and Facebook page list showtimes for current movies.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 16, 2017 at 4:59 pm

The State is currently showing movies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but nothing is yet announced for September. Five dollar admission, four for children and seniors. They are showing Dunkirk next weekend. Quite a bargain. But so far there is only one showing each night (at 7:30), so don’t be late.

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