State Theater

171 W. Elm Avenue,
Coalinga, CA 93210

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Originally opened as the California Theater. It was part of the T & D Jr. Enterprises chain. In the early-1940’s, it was renamed State Theater.

The State Theater was heavily damaged in the Coalinga earthquake on May 2, 1983. I don’t believe that it ever re-opened after the quake.

Contributed by Ken McIntyre

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

GaryParks on November 7, 2007 at 5:14 pm

I have one slide photo of the State, which I took in 1981. The theatre was closed and boarded up. The facade was very simple, but the wedge-shaped marquee and vertical sign were quite nice, albeit somewhat typical of a late 1930s look. If you are familiar with the now demolished Madera in Madera, or the demolished Del Mar in San Leandro, you have a pretty good idea of the look of the State in Coalinga. One feature which was a little different was a tiered series of cavetto moldings forming a sort of visual support for the top part of the vertical sign. I will bet these tiers were once uplit with hidden neon. The top of the vertical sign had a rounded top, with a series of concentric neon tubes, rainbowlike.

YaledMot on February 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Once the quake of May 1983 hit, the State Theatre was toast as was 90% of the masonry downtown. Theatre fan and artist Ron Mussleman and I drove over to Coalinga from Fresno. We were astounded at the damage to the town. Not a single 1920s era masonry beuilding survived. We took photos of the State Theatre and msot of the rest of downtown. In the first photo Ken posted above, we were able to get fairly clear shots of what had been the stagehouse. The two remaining walls had been pulled down for obvious safety and aftershock concern. We were able to see through the proscenium opening into the house as well as the daylight streaming in through the projection ports. The front of the theatre had largely come down as well. It is hard to believe that in another couple months, it will have been 30 years since that shake. I was on top of a ladder at Pizza and Pipes (with its theatre organ from Shea’s Hippodrome/Center Theatre Buffalo, NY) The restaurant emptied as the quake hit. The dining room mirror ball was swinging back and forth and the organ chimes were slamming into each other. I got out to see my ‘78 Grand Am rocking like a giant was on top of it. Amazing day indeed. 6.3 as I recall.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Another photo of the State Theatre in ruins, but with the vertical sign still attached, appears on page 173 of Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman (Google Books scan.)

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