States Theatre

3507 S. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60653

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STATES Theatre; Chicago, Illinois.

Located near the edge of the historic South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, at S. State Street near E. 35th Street, the States Theatre was a mid-sized movie house which opened in 1913. Today the site of the States Theatre is not far from both the site of the now-demolished Stateway Gardens public housing high-rises, as well as to the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The States Theatre not only screened movies, but featured live stage shows (including, by the 1920’s and 1930’s, many jazz acts), and, in its early days, its own house orchestra.

The theatre appears to have closed by the early-1950’s, and was demolished long ago.

Today the land it once once sat on is now a parking lot for the Chicago Police Headquarters, and prior to the parking lot, the site was a gas station.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft, pphil

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

Broan on June 10, 2006 at 5:18 am

Architect was A. Proskauer

keycom on January 11, 2008 at 5:51 am

My grandfather Nathan Joseph owned and operated the States Theatre for most of his adult life. I have many childhood memories of the place, which are incorporated in my novel TO LOVE MERCY (ISBN 0-9744785-3-9, Although I called it the “Calumet” in TO LOVE MERCY, it stands in for the States. The sequel I am writing now, TO WALK HUMBLY, also includes many scenes at the theater. The corner of 35th and State Streets was the heart of the Bronzeville neighborhood, a vibrant 24-hour community that was in effect “Chicago’s Harlem” in the ‘20s, '30s and '40s. In the '50s, urban renewal came in and destroyed this neighborhood and its culture to make way for the notorious Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor Homes public housing projects. Virtually every building on State Street was knocked down eventually. The States was closed in the mid '50s but the boarded-up building remained standing while everything else on the east side of the street was mowed down. I remember driving by in the early '60s and seeing this single brick structure standing alone on the block. It was eventually torn down too, I think around 1962. Bronzeville lay fallow for four decades. In the last 10-15 years, there has been a move to revive its memory, culture and viability as an urban neighborhood (it’s just 3 ½ miles south of the Loop), and housing prices are booming as the neighborhood yuppiefies and buppiefies. But 80% of the once-fine housing stock has been torn down as well as most of the commercial core. On State Street, where my grandpa’s theater once stood, the only reminder of this bygone era is the Bee Branch of the Chicago Public Library at 3647 S. State Street, housed in the former building of the Chicago Bee, one of Bronzeville’s two newspapers. (The Bee died decades ago; the Defender still is in publication in offices downtown though a shadow of its former self.) A visit to the Bee Branch will be repaid. Over the entrance hangs a delightful oil painting imagining State Street in the '40s, its vibrant bustling heyday.

Frank Joseph
Chevy Chase MD

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

If Frank Joseph is still watching Cinema Treasures, and if he hasn’t already seen the item, he will probably enjoy reading the Boxoffice article about his grandfather in the March 17, 1956, issue. It mentions him.

If BWChicago is still frequenting this page, I have a question: Volume 17 of a trade journal called The Bridgeman’s Magazine lists A. Proskauer (who you identified above as the architect of the States Theatre) as the architect of an unnamed theater then (1917) being built in Terre Haute, Indiana. Do you know if this project was completed and, if it was, do you know which of Terre Haute’s theaters it was?

kencmcintyre on April 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I heard that Nathan Joseph is still going strong as he approaches his 131st birthday, with still no plans to retire. I too hope Frank Joseph gets to read that article.

keycom on October 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Joe Vogel —

I’d love to read that Boxoffice article from 1956 but the link is dead. Do you have access to a copy pls?


Frank Joseph

keycom on July 15, 2012 at 4:36 pm

RickB —

That’s my grandpa all right! Can’t thank you enough.


Frank Joseph

DavidZornig on November 10, 2015 at 6:28 pm

04/05/63 photo added courtesy of Steven Regulus.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 27, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Architect A. Proskauer’s first name was Adolph, according to an item in the January 7, 1922, issue of The Economist.

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