State Theatre

170 Johnson Street,
Winona, MN 55987

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The State Theatre was the largest of the six theatres during the heyday of movie theatres. It was opened as the Apollo Theatre in January 1926, with seating listed at 1,160 in its Atmospheric style auditorium. It was across the street from the smaller Winona Theatre that opened in the same year. Within six months it was taken over by Publix and renamed State Theatre. It was remodelled to the plans of architectural firm Liebenberg & Kaplan in 1929, and again in 1935. In 1935 through to its closing it was operated by Minnesota Amusement Co.

The State Theatre closed in the 1970’s and from what I could find it has since been demolished. Any further information on the State Theatre would be appreciated.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

winonakid
winonakid on September 23, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Your closing dates are incorrect. Both the Winona and the State stayed open at least until the late 1970s. I saw several movies there as a kid in the 1970s.

winonakid
winonakid on September 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’ve found movie listings for the State Theater as early as 1926. The building was demolished in 1999 to make room for a parking lot.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm

A December 4, 1926, item in Motion Picture News said: “L. G. Roesner has installed a new heating plant in his State Theatre, at Winona, Minn.”

Winona, by Walter Bennick (Google Books preview) says that the State Theatre was opened in January, 1926, as the Apollo Theatre. It was initially operated by the Beyerstedt brothers, but about six months after the house opened they sold it to Louis Roesner, who renamed it the State Theatre. The book has a ca. 1944 photo of the State.

winonakid
winonakid on September 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I’ve seen movie listings for BOTH the State and the Apollo People’s Theater from the same days in 1926, so I think the Apollo might’ve been a different building. I’ve also seen movie listings from 1926 for a theater in Winona called the Strand.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm

winonakid: as the Beyerstedt brothers owned other theaters in Winona at various times, it’s possible that they moved the name Apollo to one of them after selling this house to Louis Roesner.

Have you seen any advertisements for the Colonial Theatre? Bennick’s book has a photo of the Colonial’s opening in 1912 (on page 113.) The last mention of the Colonial I’ve found in a trade publication is from early 1926, saying that it was to be remodeled. Bennick says that the Colonial was at 168 Johnson Street, which would have put it on the same block as the State.

In fact, I have a suspicion that it might have been the same theater as the State, with the address shifted one number. Compare the photos of the two buildings in the book. Despite some differences, which could be accounted for by the 1926 remodeling, several details are remarkably similar. But then Bennick (published in 2012) also says that the Colonial building is still standing, but that can’t be the case if it was in the 100 block of Johnson Street, so maybe he got the address wrong.

I have come across a reference to a house called the New Strand Theatre, which opened in 1916, according to the July 15 issue of The Moving Picture World. It had 500 seats and was in a converted store building on E. Third Street. The scan of the magazine is a bit blurry, and I couldn’t make out the address, but it was either 71, 72, or 73 E. Third.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

More about the Strand: the January 7, 1927, issue of Motion Picture News said that the Strand Theatre in Winona had been closed and was being converted into retail space for McClellan Stores.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 25, 2013 at 11:05 pm

The August 6, 1926, issue of The Film Daily provides a period source about the name change from Apollo to State: “Winona, Minn. — Northwest Theaters, which recently acquired the Apollo theater, ending competition here, has changed the name of the house to ‘The State.’”

The magazine had first announced the purchase in its July 6 issue.

As the item says that the purchase “ended competition” in Winona, it must be that Lewis Roesner had already made some sort of deal with Northwest, possibly staying on as local manager after selling his interest (or a part interest) in the theaters.

It must also mean that the Beyerstedt brothers had left the theater business, at least in Winona, so they couldn’t have been operating another Apollo Theatre. Taking that into account, I don’t know what to make of the simultaneous ads for the State and the Apollo.

Finkelstein & Rubin’s Northwest Theatres became affiliated with Paramount-Publix in 1928, and in 1929 the larger company bought the chain out entirely.

I’ve also found references to the State Theatre in the finding aid to the Liebenberg & Kaplan papers. The firm did remodeling work at the house in 1929 and in 1935-1937. They also worked on the the Winona Theatre (1936-1940 and 1950) and the West End Theatre (1931, 1936). In addition, the firm designed a drive-in at Winona.

winonakid
winonakid on September 26, 2013 at 11:49 am

Joe: Thanks for the detailed info. I’m still digging into the whole Apollo/State situation. I’m also looking into the Colonial sitaution and will post any concrete info I can find.

winonakid
winonakid on September 28, 2013 at 9:50 am

I finally sorted out this confusing situation. The Winona Opera House changed its name to the State Theatre in December 1925. The Apollo Theatre opened on January 15, 1926. By September of 1926, the Apollo had changed its name to the State Theatre and the (old) State became the (new) Winona Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

My apologies for the confusion over the location of the Colonial Theatre in my earlier comment. I carelessly misread the text in Bennick’s book. The Colonial was at 168 Main Street, not 168 Johnson Street.

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