State-Lake Theatre

190 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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The last picture show at the State-Lake Theatre

Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit, the State-Lake Theatre opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. Fronted by an office building designed by architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, the auditorium was designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh. It later became the major venue for the RKO theatre chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on W. Randolph Street). The theatre is named for its location on the corner of N. State Street and W. Lake Street, across the street from the State and Lake “El” Station.

It was built a couple years before the Chicago Theatre, which sits just across the street from the State-Lake Theatre, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago Theatre, though the State-Lake Theatre was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theatre became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theatre switched to movies-only.

After closing on June 28, 1984, the State-Lake Theatre’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.

The Rapp & Rapp designed exterior was restored to it’s 1920’s appearance (except for its marquee and ticket booth) and is still quite an impressive bookend to the Chicago Theatre across N. State Street.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 156 comments)

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on April 8, 2017 at 4:24 am

THE EXORCIST didn’t open at the State-Lake on December 26, 1973. It started showing at the State-Lake in February, 1974. The big 1973 Christmas attraction at the State-Lake was PAPILLON.

JAlex on September 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm

The architect of the theatre was G. Albert Lansburgh.

Rapp & Rapp designed the office building which housed the theatre.

alansafe on December 10, 2017 at 9:21 pm

Its not it’s

“The Rapp & Rapp designed exterior was restored to it’s 1920s appearance…”

DavidZornig on February 26, 2018 at 10:25 pm

1953 photo added credit Bettmann/Getty.

DavidZornig on March 1, 2018 at 4:36 am

9/12/51 photo added credit Larry Nocerino (Vintage Tribune).

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on August 21, 2018 at 2:08 am

The State Lake Theatre showed its last movie on Thursday, June 28, 1984.

larrynow on February 3, 2019 at 1:15 am

I wonder why there is so little photo documentation of the lobby or auditorium? I found 1 grainy pic of the interior…that was it!!!!!

DavidZornig on March 17, 2019 at 3:19 am

100th anniversary piece for tomorrow.

DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Saul Smaizys 9/30/77-10/20/77 photo via Flickr. (misdated originally) Will enlarge in link.

DavidZornig on December 30, 2020 at 5:33 am

1939 marquee photo credit Charles Dunlap via Flickr.

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