State Theatre

770 E. Colorado Boulevard,
Pasadena, CA 91101

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

AndrewBarrett: You will probably be interested in this item I ran across in the February 9, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“The new Florence theater, soon to be opened in Pasadena under the management of D. B. Schumann, is installing a two-manual and piano-manual pipe organ built by the Seeburg-Smith factories at Chicago. This firm is practically a newcomer on the coast and especially in the South, although it is very well known in the East and throughout the Middle West. C. R. Dibble Company of Los Angeles made the sale, and is superintending the construction.”

Jengood008 on May 24, 2016 at 8:19 pm

I’ve read conflicting reports of this building being gutted vs. torn down. The complete teardown (minus the facade, of course) theory made sense until I walked around to the back on the Oak Knoll side where the curved roof is clearly visible at the back of the structure where the offices are now located. It seems very odd that they would have chosen to build the roof like this if it were truly all new construction. I’m going to go non-suspiciously poke around inside that back office area one of these days!

paulvideo on March 27, 2015 at 2:29 am

The State was not gutted, the theater was torn down. The face to the theater was kept and restored. The builders could have used the space and restored the old theater house as retail space but the powers that be did not. We all fall for such perverse business ( $$$ ) ideals ! Just look at how beautiful the house for State WAS for that period in the pix above.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm

“The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, page 628, lists a “Pasadena Theatre” in Pasadena, California, as having a three manual Smith theatre pipe organ.

No other details, such as # of ranks or installation date, are given.

I could not find a “Pasadena Theatre” listed on this site right now (April 2014) but this has a fairly close name. However, according to Lost Memory, this “Pasadena Photoplay Theatre” apparently had only about 350 seats, and most three-manual theatre organs had at least ten ranks.

The largest known Smith organs were both 4 manuals and 16 ranks, so that this organ in question was probably between 10 and 14 ranks, or so.

This is quite large for a little 350-seat theatre, since most theatres of this size either had a photoplayer (such as those made by American Photo Player Co, or Wurlitzer) or simply a person playing the piano, or, if an organ, nothing larger than about six or seven ranks (and thus, two manuals). Thus, I think it is unlikely this is the same theatre mentioned in the book.

Does anybody know more about this instrument, or a larger “Pasadena Theatre?” in Pasadena?


I think the State might be a good candidate, time-wise and size-wise, for having had such an organ, so am placing this here also for the time being.

marion142 on August 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Manwithnoname, Thanks for the memory of Canterbury records. I haven’t lived in Ca. since 1968, before the freeway.

davt on March 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I remember they screened Run Lola Run here. Sad when it was shut down. Things change. sometimes not for the better. isn’t there a Liberty tax there now?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 16, 2011 at 5:08 am

The State Theatre nearly had a much larger theater as a neighbor. In 1927, the October 8 edition of Building and Engineering News reported that architect B. Marcus Priteca was preparing the working plans for a seven-story theater, commercial and office building at the southwest corner of Colorado and Hudson in Pasadena. Had it been built, the new theater, which was to be leased to the Pantages circuit, would have seated about 2,200, making it a little over two thirds the size of the Hollywood Pantages, opened in 1930. The theater portion of the Pasadena Pantages was to have been 110x170 feet, and the frontage building containing the entrance and lobby would have been 116x90 feet.

Another Pasadena theater that was planned but never built was a large house for Warner Bros., also to have been designed by Priteca, and slated for the corner of Colorado and Euclid, which is very near where the Arclight Pasadena is now located. This theater probably would have been very much like the Warner houses Priteca designed for Beverly Hills, Huntington Park, and San Pedro at about the same time.

coweyhere on December 2, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Here’s a photo I shot back in 2000 of the marquee before it closed down:

View link

TLSLOEWS on March 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Another STATE gone.

Robert Allen
Robert Allen on August 9, 2009 at 2:19 am

I wish them well. I started my full-time career as an IA projectionist at another FWC “State” theatre in Pomona.

Manwithnoname on July 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm

One remaining holdout of a bygone era is Canterbury Records, just up the street. They are struggling to hold on but you can still find many rare items there you never see anywhere else.

MichaelPage on February 27, 2009 at 4:34 am

Dublinboyo, you said it! I’m a long-time Pasadena resident, it’s 4:30 in the morning, I’m depressed, and going to bed.

The last time I ventured into the State was in 1982 when I viewed “Dance Craze”, a concert film, a couple times at least. Interestingly the prints for that movie have all been lost.

I remember walking the few blocks up Hudson, when Pasadena was still relatively dark at night.

Dublinboyo on February 26, 2009 at 5:12 pm

The old Pasadena is gone. All the original movie theaters that once lined Colorado Blvd are now long gone! That includes The UA, the Esquire, the Colorado and the State. Even the UA Marketplace in Old Town Pasadena is gone. The only theaters that are left on Colorado are the Laemelle Playhouse 7 and the ghost of the once lovely Academy Theater – now living out the last years of her life as a 6 theater multi-plex. A real shame. The Pacific Hastings theater at Foothill and Rosemead is now closed. I used to go to the State when it was a revival house and pass the time before the showtimes at the old Bungalow News which stocked every newspaper and magazine you can imagine and did not care if you stayed there and read for a few minutes or a few hours. Used to love the smell of that place; the smell of newsprint like a bookstore is supposed to smell. Now closed – a victim of the soaring rents in Pasadena and the so-called “Playhouse District.” If all this is not bad enough, the City of Pasasdena has begun a policy of cutting down all the beautiful ficus trees that line the boulevard including the ones in front of Vroman’s Bookstore and Cliff’s Books. Rumor has it that the owner of Vroman’s is behind it and if that is the case I will not be giving them another penny of my money and am encouraging people to boycott the store. I used to support Vroman’s but cannot anymore. Colorado Blvd. is now nothing but an ugly and over priced retail district with ugly and over-priced condos. The trees gave shade and beauty and used to make it nice. No more.

kencmcintyre on January 9, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Here is another view of the marquee after the theater closed in 2000:

kencmcintyre on January 9, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Here is part of an LA Times article dated 2/7/90:

Louie Federici was a schoolboy when the State Theater was born in Pasadena in 1918. And like Federici, who is now nearing 80, the Colorado Boulevard theater has been a witness to changing times. In the early days, it was a proud Fox West Coast moving-picture theater. Then it burned down, was rebuilt, changed hands. When it finally closed its doors a couple of years ago, it had a garish sign headlining X-rated films.

But last spring, Federici cranked up the dormant projector and restored the neon marquee, and the 700-seat auditorium once again flickered with movies such as “Robin Hood,” “Top Hat” and “Suspicion.” It is the only theater in the San Gabriel Valley that exclusively shows old movies. “You have to be a lover of the old classics to be in this business,” said Federici, who has spent his life working in theaters like the State-taking tickets, popping popcorn, and watching glamorous stars cavort on screen. Federici, of Hollywood, and his partner, Bob Stein, 55, of Studio City, hope they can revive the revival house. But they know they’re bucking a trend.

If enough customers do not pack the theater to ensure its salvation, it is unlikely that the State would be preserved as a historic landmark like its South Pasadena neighbor, the Rialto Theater, which shows first-run art films and cult offerings such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” There is nothing ornate or unique about the State’s architecture. Its walls are bare, its lighting subdued.

When the two men took over, they did little more than tear down the red-flocked wallpaper left over from when the place was called the Pussycat Theater. Inside the auditorium, the ceiling vents are scarred with soot, and the only ornaments are lighted wall sconces reminiscent of the moderne look popular when the State was rebuilt after the fire in the 1930s. A narrow staircase winds up to a cluttered projection booth overflowing with heavy film canisters. A part-time employee sometimes spends the night on a mattress in a cubbyhole off the booth.

kencmcintyre on April 26, 2008 at 12:09 pm

If you look at the 1942 photo and the one from April 5, you can see that the current building shows more of the original design. I was confused because I only remembered those flat panels behind the marquee, like you see in Lost Memory’s photo of 9/22/07. I guess they took those panels down, which revealed the original design.

bbtommix on April 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

I wish I had the $$$ to save all these great and wonderful theatres before they all become parking lots and strip malls I am sorry to see and hear about the state the State is in.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2008 at 11:06 pm

The State was adjacent to the tall building on the corner, which was built on the site of a market (either a Pantry or a Jurgensen’s, I can’t recall for sure— the last time I saw it intact was before 1970.)

They’ve incorporated the surviving bits of the State’s facade into this project in a very strange way. It looks almost like it’s been trapped. A thin theatre trying to get out of a fat commercial building. I actually find it a bit creepy.

kencmcintyre on April 5, 2008 at 10:47 pm

I got it covered. I couldn’t figure out which one it was as there is no 770 anymore. This one is 766. I remember the State being further west, but I could be wrong.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 5, 2008 at 10:25 pm

Ken: The building in your picture is the next one just west of the State. Interior Image, the closed furniture store, was at 762 E. Colorado.

This is what the State building looks like now.