212 Locust Street,
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The State Theatre was located on Locust Street between 2nd Street and 3rd Street, a little ways down from Capitol Park. The site had been occupied by theaters since approximately 1900. First on this site was the Lyceum Theatre and then the Orpheum Theatre, the latter was demolished in 1925 to make way for the State Theatre.
The State Theatre was housed in a large stone building and featured a wide, narrow rectangular marquee with small display panels on each end. A large vertical sign towered three stories at one end of the marquee.
An ornate stand-alone ticket booth was in a wide but narrow exterior space with several entrance doors. The interior of the State maintained the most overtly theatrical ambiance of any Harrisburg theater.
There were two lobbies, the first a kind of arcade, and the second an elaborate, palatial affair with chandeliers and much architectural detail. Restrooms were downstairs at opposite ends of the second (main) lobby that also included several display frames for posters and a refreshment stand. I seem to recall a second-floor balcony (mezzanine) space over this lobby that led to the actual seating balcony.
The State Theatre had one of the largest auditoriums and screens in the city. It certainly had the largest screen when it was renovated for CinemaScope in 1953. Fox’s "The Robe" kicked off the wide-screen revolution in Harrisburg with a huge curved screen and a state-of-the-art 4-track stereophonic sound system.
During the first phase of this era the State Theatre alternated 20th Century-Fox CinemaScope films with the Senate Theatre on Market Square but they were much more impressive at the State Theatre.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s the State Theatre alternated Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Columbia releases. A relative also recalls big bands and stage shows at the State Theatre in the 1940’s. In the 1960’s films such as "The Wild Bunch, " “Barbarella," "Such Good Friends”, and "2001, A Space Odyssey" were screened.
Alas, "2001" did not prove prophetic for the State Theatre which was razed in the early-1970’s to make way for an office building. Poor choice for Harrisburg. It would have made a wonderful downtown performing arts center.
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