State Theater

227 Broadway,
Farmington, ME 04938

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State Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Broadway Theatre opened in 1925. It was sold in 1937 and renamed the State Theater. The State Theater closed in 1995, and is now a barber shop and dance studio.

Contributed by Bruce Calvert

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 24, 2012 at 6:38 pm

The State Theatre in Farmington is listed in the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac as being part of the Lockwood and Gordon circuit of Boston. Note the “I-O-O-F” logo at the top of the facade in the streetview photo. This building was an Odd Fellows Hall, so the Broadway/State was almost certainly created from the Odd Fellows auditorium.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 31, 2015 at 7:46 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the State, it’s Card # 368. Address is Broadway. There is an external photo dated May 15, 1941. Condition is Fair. The report says it opened in 1924, was showing MGM movies, and had 437 seats. 1940 population was 3,700.

SilentMaine on November 23, 2015 at 9:12 pm

I remember the State Theatre well. It was originally a single screen, but at some point (long before my time), it was split down the middle and turned into two screens.

The book “Small-Town Motion Pictures” lists the opening date as 1925, but I’m fairly sure it was in business by ‘24 at the latest, as I’ve got a couple heralds advertising 1924 releases playing there. E.G. Pollard was the original manager. Harry Josselyn was the accompanist (piano). It was silent until 1930 (October, I want to say?), when a sound system was installed.

Before the Broadway opened, they showed movies across the street at the Music Hall Theatre, in addition to live performances. I’m fairly sure both venues were owned by the same person, actually.

And before that, there was a traveling movie show that made the circuit of towns on the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes railroad. Story is that they set up a tent somewhere in town (probably out on the fairgrounds, but that’s just my assumption) and exhibited a program of short films — this would have been around the turn of the 20th century.

The State closed in 1995, as I recall. I’m pretty sure “Waterworld” was the last show — at least, that’s the last film I saw there. Although “closed” might not be the right word, as it just moved down the street and became the Narrow Gauge Cinema.

I’ve no idea when the Music Hall closed, but the building is still there. It’s been a Renys for decades. (Renys is a regional chain of… I guess you might call them department stores? The Farmington one is a jumble of highly miscellaneous merchandise scattered across three floors.) It’s still largely intact — stage area, balcony, etc., all are preserved.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm

SilientMaine- It’s great to read comments from a local person who knows some facts about these theaters. There are many small-town theaters in Maine which have “pages” here in Cinema Treasures, and if you know anything about them, please go to the page and comment! For the past several months I have been creating pages here in CT for theaters in Maine listed in the 1940s MGM theater reports. There are many loose ends, and what is missing is the knowledge of local Maine people like yourself.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 25, 2015 at 6:50 pm

The CinemaDate Project has a file on the Music Hall in Farmington which SilientMaine mentions above, and which was across from the State Theatre. They say it had 600 seats and opened about 1913 presenting both live shows and movies. But they say it closed as a theater way back in 1928, and has been a Reny’s store for decades.

SilentMaine on November 25, 2015 at 9:17 pm

The 1928 date could be right (as I said, I have no idea when it closed, other than it’s been a Renys since the ‘70s, if not earlier), but it opened long before 1913. The building was dedicated in 1882, but it actually opened in 1881. George M. Coombs was the architect and the builder was Cyrus Thomas. The year it opened, it appears to have simply been called the Opera House. Later, it became Franklin Hall (not to be confused with the current Franklin Hall at the university), and finally the Music Hall Theatre. The musical comedy “Edgewood Folks” was the inaugural show, with Sol Smith Russell performing the lead role of Tom Dilloway. Maybe they started exhibiting movies in 1913, but even that seems late to me. They were showing movies there at least up to 1924.

The old State Theatre does have I-O-O-F written on the cornice, but the Odd Fellows building is actually on Main Street. It currently houses the Upcountry Artists gallery on the ground floor and apartments above. The auditorium was on the third floor, but I don’t believe anything from it survives. So that’s strange. Maybe their membership had grown so much that they warranted a second location, but if that’s true, it didn’t last long. The building was built c1920 and it became the Broadway Theatre only four or five years later.

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