State-Lake Theater

190 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

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State-Lake Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum circuit, the State-Lake Theater opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. It later became the major venue for the RKO theater chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on Randolph Street). The theater is named for its location on the corner of State Street and 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 Theater, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago, though the State-Lake Theater was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theater became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theater switched to movies-only.

After closing in 1985, the State-Lake Theater’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.

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

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 142 comments)

JudithK
JudithK on August 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for the posted photographs of the State-Lake Theater in Chicago, IL. The one and only time I was in the State-Lake Theater was when a friend and I decided to see “Saturday Night Fever” on a cold winter’s day. That was quite a visit. The theater was in sad shape by the late 1970’s (I seem to remember a rip in the screen; I also remember never seeing the place with the lights full up) and I think served that day as shelter for street and other vulnerable people, not a bad idea, just kind of unsettling. The usual stinky popcorn machine was in the lobby. I wish we had seen it in its prime.

figaro14
figaro14 on October 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

I can’t believe there are no interior photos of the State-Lake? I’ve looked everywhere for them. Anyone have access to any?

Broan
Broan on October 11, 2011 at 11:52 am

Theatre Historical Society in Elmhurst.

robertdickson
robertdickson on February 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm

for btkrefft: Confirming photograph is interior of State-Lake. Verified from B'hend and Kaufmann Collection at AMPAS Margaret Herrick Library

chicagomike47
chicagomike47 on September 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm

i saw the world premeire of ‘I WANT TO LIVE’ there nov 11th 1958. it starred SUSAN HAYWARD, and she won an oscar for her role! in the true story of barbara graham,

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on September 17, 2012 at 5:57 am

Here http://gallery.bustalk.info/displayimage.php?album=83&pos=66 is a 1982 photo.

TechnicolourYawn
TechnicolourYawn on April 23, 2013 at 1:34 am

Hi all, I hope you can help out here.

When “DR. NO” opened at the State Lake in 1963, was it a first run exclusive at the theater? Or was it released in a showcase / saturation style across Chicago?

Thanks!

Broan
Broan on April 23, 2013 at 7:37 am

It opened exclusively at the State-Lake through June 26, then went wide the next week.

TechnicolourYawn
TechnicolourYawn on April 23, 2013 at 8:19 am

Thank you Broan, much appreciated.

gordonio
gordonio on August 26, 2013 at 10:15 am

Jeez, Louise! I SAW Cleopatra at the State-Late Theater! (We teenagers called it the “State and Lake”)

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