State Theater

137 East Main Street,
Waterbury, CT 06702

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Showing 18 comments

dtrigubetz on October 7, 2011 at 10:54 am

Correction: Mrs. Carosello died in 1988. Her brother-in-law, Joseph Carole, had a hit play on Broadway(1942-44), “Separate Rooms”. Alan Dinehart, Glenda Farrell and Lyle Talbot were in the cast and Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard attended opening night. Joe Carole was a writer at Columbia, but got fired by Harry Cohn, as he defied him and went to NY for the play’s premiere.

Joe must have gotten back into Cohn’s good graces as he co-wrote Marilyn Monroe’s first movie, “Ladies of the Chorus.”

dctrig on December 14, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Florence Stevenson Carosello (1898-1987)played the Wurlitzer at this theater from the late teens until talkies. I had many conversations with her in the 1980s in her home in Norwalk, California.

She remembered the Wurlitzer technician coming in by train from New York to attend to repairs and said a Mr Murphy was the theater manager. I believe she was in a union as she said Mr Murphy always made sure she took her mandated breaks.

It was fascinating to see her c.1917 Connecticut driver license embossed in aluminum.

anexwaterburian on February 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

The Rialto Theater and Moriarty’s Buildings in the 1920s

michaeljay on January 22, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I remember the days I worked at the State Theater..Way back around 1953…I was an usher..for a short time..the head usher left and I was made head usher…Julia Smith the boss.. her husband was Mr. Zolo…She was very strick…but fair…her rules had to be obeyed
A lot of memories… She had two Boston Bulldogs that I had to walk every day…The ushers had to stand at each aisle with their hand behind them..

On Saturday matinees..when the kids were to noisy.. in the balcony
she would turn on the lights and open the exit doors and put everyone out…does anyone remember this…. I do…She ran a tight shift…She was always very good to me… some nice memories of the State Theater…I have a lot more.. but someday I’ll write more….

rpoli on August 27, 2007 at 6:12 am

I’ve been told that my great-grandfather’s brother was a purveyor of this and other theatres in the New England area.

edwardguinea on December 30, 2006 at 9:16 am

The Naugatuck Valley Mall Cinema I, II and III ran the downtown theatres out of business. After The State Theatre closed, the LaFlamme Family purchased the downtown theatre renaming it The Center. They had great success with “Adventures Of The Wilderness Family”. Most of the movies were Kung-Fu type films and awful things like “Snuff” and other violent movies.

Capeguy on November 13, 2006 at 10:37 am

The organ at the State Theatre was a Wurlitzer Style 205 with 2 manuals and 10 ranks of pipes. It is currently installed in a home in Massachusetts.

anexwaterburian on July 13, 2006 at 4:53 pm

Powimage suddenly stopped functioning a few weeks ago. The State Theatre marquee and plaque photos are now at: View link

anexwaterburian on April 19, 2006 at 5:49 pm

Photos of State Theatre marquee on August 18, 1955 for Girl Rush premiere,
and Rosalind Russell homecoming plaque:

anexwaterburian on November 11, 2005 at 5:13 pm

The Waterbury Connecticut Theaters History that Lost Memory refers to is at

anexwaterburian on August 15, 2005 at 3:49 am

There was another world premiere of a movie at the State Theater in 1955. Joe Mulhall, who was a Waterbury radio teen-aged disk jockey in the early 1950s and later changed his on-air name to Ken Griffin, wrote about it in his 2002 biography “A Great Face For Radio”:

“My greatest feat during that time was to arrange for actor Sal Mineo to come to Waterbury in 1955 to promote his movie "Somebody up There Likes Me” at the State Theater. Press and radio interviews were scheduled, and Julia Smith, the manager of the State Theater, bought a big ad in the Waterbury Republican & American newspapers in conjunction with the “premiere”. MEET SAL MINEO IN PERSON! Sal and his family drove up from the Bronx on the day of the big event, and had a home-cooked meal at our house. Then we went to the radio stations, the newspaper office, and the movie house on East Main Street. Traffic was backed up for blocks as hundreds of folks, mostly teens, came to see the film and meet Sal in the lobby. The event was a huge success."

anexwaterburian on August 14, 2005 at 4:43 pm

The State Theater opened in 1908 as the Broadway Theater. The Broadway Theater hosted a production that featured the famous Ben Hur chariot race. The chariots were drawn by a pair of horses racing on an oval-shaped moving treadmill. The treadmill was fastened to a track on the stage floor. While the race took place, a panorama of the Coliseum flashed before the audience. At the time this was considered the greatest achievement in stage technique.

The Broadway, which had Waterbury’s first theater organ, became The Bijou Theater in 1914. The Bijou became The Rialto Theater in 1917. The Rialto became a popular wartime spot – not too long-lived, only until The State Theater arrived in 1929.

There was no doubt about The State’s elegance when it opened at the former Rialto Theater in 1929. The theater featured 2,600 seats, decorated in a Spanish motif and a classic foyer. It was the first Waterbury theater to bring the new sound films to the city. Its organ cost $40,000 and Jimmy Colgan was the first organist.

The State contracted with Paramount, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures for first-run shows, which then went to the Plaza. The Poli Palace contracted with MGM and 20th Century Fox for first-run shows, which then went to the Strand.

Julia Smith, the first woman theater manager in Connecticut, came to Waterbury in 1924 to revive a struggling Strand Theater. She was later the first woman manager for Warner Brothers in its New England chain when it took over The State.

WtbyGal on May 26, 2004 at 8:13 pm

As a child, several of my dance recitals were at the State. When going to a movie with my father, we often had lunch at the White Tower, almost next door to the State.

louis on March 20, 2004 at 5:29 pm

I am quite familiar with the old State Theater and its, then, wonderful manageress, Miss Julia Smith. Julia was a retired opera singer and every weekend before the first matinée she would play the house organ for one half hour and sing along with it. She lived in an apartment up over the theater with her assistant manager/husband. His name slips me at this time. At the time it was a badge of honor to have been fired by Miss Smith. I also had worked across the street in the Lowe’s Poli before i came to the State theater. The State was the Warner Bros theater and the Lowe’s Poli was the MGM theater. There was wonderful competition between both theaters.

The State was torn down and a parking lot was pup into its place. I attended the show where Rosalind Russell was awarded the key to the city only to have the city torn in two with a disastrous flood of 1955.

Louis Belloisy

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on January 4, 2004 at 12:36 pm

The State has long since been demolished. The UConn-Waterbury branch now stands on the site along with a parking lot. The State was previously known as the Bijou and the Rialto. It was right next door to the Poli’s and across the street from the Poli’s Palace.

William on November 14, 2003 at 2:33 pm

The State Theatre is located at 137 E. Main Street and it seated 1942 people.

GaryParks on November 14, 2003 at 1:00 pm

My father often attended the State as a child in the late 20s and early 30s. He also attended the abovemention Loew’s Poli Palace, originally known as the Poli Palace, and now the only one of the East Main St. mivie palaces to survive (I was in it in 1990 prior to its restoration). The State was still standing in 1981 when Dad took me to Waterbury to show me his childhood haunts. The State was closed and boarded up. Its facade was plain and modernized, with a pastel-painted Moderne marquee with yellow glass reader boards. Dad told me it was just a shadow of what he remembered it as looking like.