State Theatre

5814 W. Madison Street,
Chicago, IL 60644

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STATE Theatre; Chicago, Illinois.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The State Theatre was one of the largest and most impressive-looking of the numerous theaters in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, on the city’s westernmost border. Its architect was Edward Steinberg, who is noted for his Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, as well as the Belpark Theatre on the Northwest side of Chicago, which is now a banquet hall.

Opened in 1925 for the Lubliner & Trinz circuit, it could seat almost 1,900. One of the most notable features of its Baroque facade was a miniature version of the arched window of Rapp & Rapp’s Chicago Theatre, by which his design of the State Theatre Steinberg was clearly inspired by.

Acquired by Balaban & Katz in the early-1930’s, the State Theatre continued to operate at least into the 1970’s before it was closed.

Though vacant for decades, it was still very much an Austin landmark. In fact, the theater (and adjoining building) were listed by the city as an “historically significant” structure, but regardless of this, the State Theatre was unfortunately demolished in 1995.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 14 comments)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on November 22, 2006 at 11:08 pm

Yep. I remember that transition from ABC to Lillard. Saw it myself fifteen years ago while researching old movie listings.

BrooklynJim on March 24, 2007 at 1:50 pm

I’m going purely from memory on this, but there’s a fine B&W pic of the State, c. Dec. 1936, in the current issue – Spring 2007 – of “First & Fastest.” (Am unable to reproduce it here as I lack the technical equipment, but perhaps another traction/movie fan can.)

BrooklynJim on March 26, 2007 at 9:45 am

The exact date for the State Theatre photo mentioned in the post above is Dec. 5, 1936. (It appears on p. 18 of “F&F” magazine.)

GrandMogul on April 11, 2007 at 11:28 am

Chicago Daily News, Wednesday, June 5, 1940, p. 23, c. 7—-
The most-talked-of picture ever filmed, “Gone With The Wind,” begins its one week only engagement in the neighborhoods on Friday, June 7, when Balaban & Katz books the technicolor classic into the Tower Theater, 63rd street and Blackstone; the State Theater, 5814 West Madison street, and the Riviera Theater, Broadway at Lawrence.

It will be presented complete and intact, as it is being shown in the Loop.

Reserved seats for the engagements are on sale at special box-offices in each theater and mail orders are being given prompt attention. Seats are reserved for the evening performances which start at 8 pm and for the Sunday matinee, which will begin at 2 pm.

Week day matinees will be continuous from 10 am. Patrons may come as late as 2 pm and see a complete matinee performance.

KenC on July 12, 2007 at 9:44 pm

The State theatre was operating at least through early July 1978- although it probably closed and re-opened once or twice during the 1970s with new owners/ operators. From the Chicago Sun Times movie listings on Saturday, July 1, 1978: STATE 5814 W. Madison St. 261-0962—Open 1:00 “YOUNGBLOOD” “THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN”.

Stella76 on February 7, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Would be amazing if there were more exterior photos from the sixties and earlier – plus interiors. Sad that there is so little information available about this fantastic old theater.

RiisPark on March 13, 2013 at 6:34 am

I believe it was a church for a time in the 1980’s.

DavidZornig on June 17, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Just ran across a link that says the State’s organ was later move to the Trianon Ballroom at 6201 Cottage Grove.

BobbyS on April 22, 2015 at 10:59 pm

A great movie house. Not as grand as the Marbro down the street. When the Marbro closed the marquee read visit the B&K State. There is a picture of that sign somewhere. Quite a number of stabbings forced the theatre to close for a time in the late 60’s & 70’s. No theatre can operate under those conditions.

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