State Theatre

929 College Street,
Bowling Green, KY 42101

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The Diamond Theatre was opened in 1921, with a seating capacity of 850. By 1950, the theatre was listed with 1,053 seats. The Diamond Theatre operated as a single screen, first run hall. It was remodeled in 1949 to the plans of architectural firm Marr & Hloman and renamed State Theatre continuing into the mid-1980’s.

Contributed by Will Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Someone could have done a much better marquee than what that picture shows with “10” on it.Pity to have a marquee that nice and a lazy manager running it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 13, 2010 at 2:19 am

Marilyn Dee Casto’s book “Actors, Audiences, and Historic Theatres of Kentucky” says that the Diamond Theatre opened in 1921.

cdelgado6 on December 29, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Seeing that picture makes me sad. I loved the State Theater

BillScates on July 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm

The State Theatre opened in 1949 on the site of the old Diamond Theatre. It was operated at the time by Crescent Amusement Co. (of Nashville, TN)and was sold along with the Capitol and Princess Theatres to Martin Theatres (Fuqua Industries,) in 1961 pursuant to a federal antitrust lawsuit. It was aquired by Carmike Cinemas in 1982 and closed shortly thereafter. My uncle, J.P. Masters managed the Capitol Theatre and my dad, William F. Scates managed the State from opening day until he retired as city manager for Martin Theatres in Bowling Green in 1978. I grew up in the three magnificent Bowling Green theatres and knew every corner of each. I started working in the State Theatre’s concession stand at age 12 makeing 25 cents/hr and held every job in the theatre, (including manager when my dad became city manager,) until I went off to college and later military. The comment about the ‘10’ marquee and ‘lazy manager’ is unwarranted. At that time theatres were struggling with overhead and marquee letters that were broken were hard to replace. I well remember planning how we could scrimp together enough letters, broken pieces of letters (and/or numbers used for letters,) to get the next marquee up. The marquee letters, like downtown theatres, were dying on the vine and along with them the downtowns of small towns. Sad.. No days like the ‘heydays’!

195161 on January 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I remember the STATE Theater quite well,I was fortunate enough to be able to work there from 1966 thru 1967.I started at the door then to running projectors.Happy Hardcastle was the Mgr.I have a lot of great memories of my time at the STATE.Larry Cassady

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson on January 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

Larry, Do you remember what projectors you had?

BillScates on January 14, 2013 at 8:34 pm

I remember Happy Hardcastle well. He was assisant mgr at the Capitol when my uncle John lived and worked the projection booth there for many years. Timelines have faded a little in my memory but when Cresent Amusement Co. sold to Martin Theatres my dad went with Cresent for a couple of years to manage the Cresent Lanes bowling. He came back to Martin’s as city manager when the Martin Theatre opened in what was then the “new” mall. I believe it may have been during that period that the Capitol closed and Happy came to the State. Happy probably knew more about the projection booth than anyone. We were never sure that breathing all that acetone glue didn’t contribute to his latter health problems… great guy.. I actually remember when his hair was “blondish” but for the last 40 yrs of his life it was snow white. I believe at the time Larry worked there, they were still using the old carbon-arc lamps. I want to think the projectors were RCA but my memory is foggy on that. They were later replaced with Xeon lamps and platter systems but I believe the heads were retained at least for a while.

195161 on January 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Mike,Bill was right,we used the old carbon arc lamps.Although i must correct him on something,Happy was already Mgr. of the STATE before the Martin Twins were opened.I know how it is to have a clouded memory because i’m not sure about the months,although i do remember working the door in the winter,having to break the frozen letters from marquee.The first movie i ran on my own was Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”,what a way to start!I’ll write about some more of my memories later,got to sign off for now,Take Larry Cassady

BillScates on January 16, 2013 at 10:03 am

I’m sure you’re right Larry. When I think back, I have to reference the time I spent in the Military (Apr 64-Sept 68). Much of that time was spent in a fog anyway and I had little contact with folks in BG. As I mentioned before, my Dad left Martin Theatres for a while to work for Cresent Amusement Co. (the previous owners of the BG theatres.) That would have been sometime around ‘62 or '63 (I was away in college.) I don’t know exactly when he came back with Martin’s but I do remember he worked for a few months managing theatres in Columbia, TN before coming back to BG as city mgr. but I’m not sure what year that was. I do know it was before I got back stateside because when I returned in '68, I managed the Riverside Drive In for him while I finished up at WKU. I believe Happy was still managing the State at that time. I left BG again in '70 but came back after Happy died to help Dad out and managed the State for a couple of years. That would’ve been around '73 or '74. Two movies that I remember presenting during that time were “Jaws” and “The Exorcist”… both sold out the house and lines extended around the corner and down 10th street! That’s best record my memory allows. Later, in my career as a teacher, I encouraged students to keep a daily journal because I had always wished I had.

195161 on January 17, 2013 at 7:39 pm

Hello Bill and Mike,Sorry i haven’t responded sooner,I have been a little busy,just not getting a lot done.Was reading your last message and it brought back some more memories of my time at the STATE.When “The Graduate"came out we got to run it because of the seating capacity,it was one of the few times we got to run a grade A movie.We ran it for three weeks and it was a sellout everynight.I had to thread the projectors pretty much in the dark because of having to keep the projection booth door shut due to people sitting in the balcony.It presented a challenge but i enjoyed doing it.

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