State Theatre

137 W. Main Street,
Barnesville, OH 43713

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The Modi Theatre was located in small-town Barnesville, Ohio, in a building that it shared with other commercial businesses. The theater opened in 1925, but closed decades ago. At least part of the former theater is occupied by a thrift store and a cement block with the word “Modi” etched into it remains at the top center of the building.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on September 12, 2011 at 7:20 am

Here are my August 2011 shots of the Modi Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Someone named Joseph Modi was listed as the operator of a 500-seat house in Barnesville called the Acme Strand Theatre in the supplement to the 1922 edition of The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide and Moving Picture Directory. It must have been the predecessor of the Modi Theatre.

An Edward Joseph Modi and a Paul Gregory Modi were both listed in a 1921 directory of students at Ohio State University. A 1925 publication about former Ohio State students mentions P. G. Modi as manager of a popular movie theater at Barnesville. I would surmise that these two were Joseph Modi’s sons. If he could put two sons through college in the early 1920s, he must have been fairly prosperous.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I’ve also come across a reference to an Ohio Theatre and a State Theatre operating in Barnesville in the late 1940s. They were operated by an Edward J. Modie. I don’t think the spelling of the name was a typo, as I’ve found other references to an Edward Modie living in Barnesville from the 1930s, and a 2010 item in the Barnesville Enterprise mentions the Modie family in connection with the theater business in the town. Edward Modi must have Anglicized the spelling of his surname at some point.

The 2010 article also says that the building at 145 W. Main Street was the original home of the Ohio Theatre, and later became a bank and then a thrift store. If the Modi Theatre was a 137 W. Main, the two must have been nearly neighbors- unless there’s been an address mixup, and the Modi and the Ohio were the same theater.

dallasmovietheaters on September 15, 2015 at 9:13 am

Technically, this entry should be the State Theatre. The Modi family started with the Acme Theatre. The highlight of that theater’s existence was when Gloria Swanson appeared there briefly in 1925 promoting her film, “Manhandled.” As Swanson was shooting a film in the general area, she was able to make personal appearances to promote that film.

The Modi family added the Modi Theatre as part of the Modi Theatre Building encompassing mulitple businesses. This entry — for the original Modi Theatre at 137 W. Main — was an establishment showing movies, hosting Charleston contests, minstrel shows, and other local events. The Modi family leaves the area for a period and the Modi under new management becomes the State Theatre. (Therefore, the entry should be the State formerly Modi Theatre.) The Acme Theatre closes.

In November of 1936, the Modi family returns to Barnesville taking on the State Theatre. And the Modis decided to build a second theater as a near neighbor. To do so, they had to acquire a wood frame building next door and raze it. Then they created the new theater building at 145 W. Main all made to be within the expanded Modi Theatre Building. It was called the Ohio Theatre at opening in July 24, 1937 and was an almost-immediate failure closing in October 1937.

The Ohio was reopened on January 2, 1938 when crowds overran the State Theatre which was showing the Japanese bombing of the U.S.S. Panay in China. Hoping to ensure success for both theaters, the family secures better parking by taking over the M&K bakery in 1938, razing the building, and providing parking lots. The short-term success is evidenced by 3,200 patrons coming to see “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs” at just 17 screenings. But the Ohio struggled post-Snow White and is only open two days a week beginning in January of 1940.

The family does appear to change the spelling of its name during World War II from Modi to Modie. They add heated sidewalks to their theaters to avoid patrons slipping on ice. Both theaters would close in the TV era with the State coming back full time in 1962 to try films with Wurlitzer organ music prior to the shows. That was short-lived appearing to last to 1964 when it mixed in a very heavy does of live stage presentations. This was followed by the library using the State for storage and the theater closing. The Ohio would become the Heritage Bank and then a thrift store.

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