State Theater

515 E Street,
Marysville, CA 95901

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AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

According to the “Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ”, pg. 628, the State Theatre in Marysville, California, had a two-manual, seven rank Smith organ installed at some point.

I would guess this was probably before the Wurlitzer opus 1627 replaced it in 1927, but not sure, since the book gives no dates or further information.

TedLangdell on February 17, 2013 at 12:51 pm

By way of introduction:

I’ve lived here 1965-79, 1988-present with a decade in Sacramento’s television news and video production scene. Watched the Crest Theater become a restored facility for a variety of activities including film and live performance.

Formerly active in production and post in Sacramento and here in Yuba/Sutter, I currently represent a German maker of 8mm-35mm motion picture transfer gear used by places like the Library of Congress and the British Film Institute, and on the other end by home movie transfer facilities.

As a resident and also local newsperson watching and covering the area… I can tell you that:

Plans but no money (or ability to bring money to the plans) has been a problem for this theater… and the succession of owners of the same-vintage vacant nearby five-story hotel.

Both are on E Street (Highway 70, the main N-S drag through town.

Redevelopment of the State could be paired with the Hotel Marysville that’s on the adjacent corner along with the other buildings in the State’s half-block (which have parking in the back) and turned into a third or fourth tier conference/meeting destination.

The city owns a parking lot on the south side of the hotel. Unfortunately, when nothing happened with the hotel, Marysville had to return federal funding to build a multi-story garage with retail on the ground floor.

The downtown is ripe for some major improvement, and a well-packaged plan (realistic, funded, backed by someone or a group that actually “gets things done”) would be well received.

Marysville now has a new city manager… a long time veteran of city management who is looking for/at options to grow the economic base here.

As Matthew (GarageStudio) and others have mentioned, there is an arts community, arts commission, and a variety of performance groups that could contribute energy, elbow grease and other support and use the facility for their presentations.

The offices along the ground and second floor could be income producing and/or tied to the theater.

It would seem natural to use the State (and its offices) as the home of a local community radio station… either LP (Low Power that can only be licensed to non-profits) or as the studios for a full power non-commercial or commercial station that took advantage of live entertainment broadcast capabilities the theater would afford.

One can see what being located (and now across from) the Miner’s Foundry facility did for KVMR in Nevada City, 40 miles east.

Thoughts of a broadcast that compares in some ways to “Prairie Home Companion” have occurred to me.

A yet-to-be-created local television station could also make use of the space or show-production capabilities the State can provide. It’s the only theater in the area with a fly gallery, for one thing.

The film festival idea has been discussed in the not so recent past.

One approach grew out of things being planned by the “Yuba-Sutter Friday Night Films” group that was active/disbanded a while ago. It was loosely connected to the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council, at the time. I still have the domain name.

One line of thinking being pursued (before the Tower Theater became an office building and the State had the projection room fire) was to use both locations to showcase films that had been shot in the area. Downtown would benefit by foot-traffic between the two locations.

The content would have included Hollywood features like 1970’s “tick… tick… tick…”, a number of other films shot around Yuba, Sutter, Colusa and Butte Counties along with and the efforts of local and regional digital film-makers.


The Arts Council’s offices and auditorium (former Christian Science Church) are a block north of the State on the other side of the street.

D Street is beginning to see a bit of “artsy"ness in that a new Arts Commission supported space has opened on D street, a east and half-a-block south of the State.

Down the street, The Tower Theater was purchased by a family services group and the auditorium space was turned into offices. The vertical sign and marquee remains. The front lobby and other space is becoming a local history museum.

Across from the Tower, the former Mervyn’s store site—on two city blocks—has been recently occupied by Habitat for Humanity, which may or may not be staying long if it can’t get city permits in order.

If Mervyn’s becomes vacant again, it could be used as a convention/meeting space, and has a large parking lot with easy access from Hwy. 70/E St.

(If the museum at the Tower ever grew too large maybe Mervyn’s would be a good location.)

The State could support the historical aspect of the area with presentations of films about the gold rush and Marysville’s role… regional Native American history, agriculture and water much like IMAX films about specific subjects.

The local Punjabi community has events that could take place at the State, and local farming (and now finance) related families who would likely contribute to the restoration or overall several-block effort.

So there’s a lot that can be done, and the area has people willing to do things.

Look at what’s happening to the State’s former sibling, the Sutter Theater in Yuba City. It was converted to a tri-plex at about the time the State was

Also a former UA circuit house, it’s been acquired by a group founded by the owner of the local Carl’s Jr. restaurants and is becoming a local performance space and art gallery.

Part of the process involves making the total cost bite-sized enough to draw funds.

A million dollars is only a thousand $1,000 blocks. Or one hundred $10,000 blocks.

I’d start by getting some private investment or other grant funding to organize a plan, and go from there.


DonaldKirk on December 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

NO…. But needing the amount of restoration it needs, it needs to become a live stage venue again; with big name entertainers, special films, including a yearly film festival. I truly expect that after restoration costs, if someone wanted to show movies, they could build a new movie theater far cheaper. Being divided up into several small movie auditoriums, the entire theatre loses it’s beauty and glory, that is the reason for someone restoring an old theatre. Knocking out the added walls (it’s divided into several theaters right now), will bring back the majestic interior that people want to see in such a restoration; and dividing it into small theatres looses that.

Mikeyisirish on December 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

I hate to ask this, but does that mean that you think it should be demolished, Donald?

DonaldKirk on December 14, 2012 at 9:12 am

I might add, that there’s $ million(s) of repairs and updating that “MUST” be done before the place could reopen. There was a vandal started fire, that from what I understand will cost well over $500,000. alone to repair the damage. Wiring is outdated, Audio and video equipment is old-school; and need replacing, With many years of non-use, the curtains may need replacing; as well, dampness may have caused seats to mill-due or rot. A lot must be done; and unless you’re willing to, or desire to bring in high dollar acts, requiring $$$$$ to book and advertise, the cost of refurbishing it into a movie theatre is not worth the money. After purchase, you’ll need several $ millions just to refurbish and book a number of shows, advertise them, etc.

DonaldKirk on December 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

I have the contact information for the owners; and have for 2 years been trying to get them to talk with me about selling or leasing it to me. The owners and the city are in legal battles at the moment; and even if I (or anyone) purchased the place, the legal matters with the city will need to be resolved (which I think, just getting ownership of the theatre, would accomplish). Unfortunately Mr. Benny and his Ms won’t talk with me, the city OR ANYONE. I have spoke with the city, the owners of the former tire shop building next door and both would like for Mr. Benny to quit playing games and to sell it. Even with cash offered; and the ability to rid himself of the legal battle, he so far, has not been willing to talk with anyone.

Entertainment on December 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Does anyone know who the owners are or the real estate company handling this property so I can make contact with them? I may be interested in opening it back up… Please let me know…Thanks

DonaldKirk on October 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I recently moved back to Oregon FROM CALIFORNIA; and I’ve opened 2 theatres in CA, that I was told that had city issues; and I’ve also ran for office in both Anaheim (CA) and Redding (CA); and have been involved in CA politics since 1971. People that knows how the CA political process works can accomplish things other’s can’t. Now in NW Oregon, I don’t know their politics; and 4 years ago I lost a fight. EVERY state/county/city/block has different rules; and you have to know how to deal with them. I’m learning here in Medford real quickly how the process works; and I’ve already made friends with the Mayor. He’s the only one so far that told me the truth. The Associate City Mgr. is close behind in truth. So far, Marysville officials seem willing to work with someone, if they acquire the State or Hotel.

Mikeyisirish on October 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Yes, I’ve seen the Holly in Medford. Quite impressive. But that’s Oregon, the state whose craziness is mostly limited environmental issues. But this is California you’re talking about here. It’s almost as though the state and most local governments WANT to dive their areas into the ground, and will sabotage themselves to whatever length to do it. I speak as an employee of the blue State of California.

I wish you luck in your efforts.

DonaldKirk on October 20, 2012 at 3:07 am

Unfortunantly too many large theatres of this kind end up in scrupulous hands; and end up being either demolished, or turned into something else. About the same situation as with the state, is happening to the Capitol Theatre in New London, CT. That one I have tried to buy, but, another restored (smaller) theatre jumped in and acted like they wanted to buy it for more money, until I was out of the picture, then they backed out of the deal. To save the state (and the Marysville Hotel), it will take a number of supporters, that 1) will help raise the funds needed to restore it 2) help with the labor, restoring it. Until subh time as the current owner will even reply to someone who wants to purchase it, the State will just fall further and further into decay. I believe that if someone can acquire the State and seriously work to restore it, the city will drop the fines and repainting charges against the theatre. The owner of the former tire store on the corner is willing to allow use of his property for fundraisers; and I believe that the parking situation can be overcome. Medford, Oregon, has in it’s downtown historic district, allowed for normal parking requirements to be bypassed. If Marysville seriously wants the theatre and hotel restored and open, they will work with owners on that issue. These two venues will help Marysville for years to come, if the city allows them to reopen without the 500+ parking spaces requirement.

Mikeyisirish on October 19, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Amen, GarageStudio. And from my own bias, I’d love to see the exterior restored to its original grandeur.

GarageStudio on October 19, 2012 at 6:28 pm

To All, I am a professional theatre/production technician for over 25 years specializing in lighting. I worked in the State Theatre last in 1993 when it was a three screen movie house. I have been all through the facility. I have been in love with this theatre since I moved into the Yuba Sutter area in 1989 with the USAF. Just after it closed I tried to save this historic theatre and had the full support of the Marysville City Council and other organizations. Unfortunately it failed because of a sour business deal from an out of the area production company. I personally know tons about this building including the items that have been stated in the previous comments by other members. As a Very Active theatre/production technician I know for a fact that there are organizations, dance studios, theatre companies, concert associations, symphonies etc that are looking for a large venue to perform in. There is NO other “Real” theatres in the Yuba Sutter Community. Trust me, I have worked in just about all the venues in the area. I have seen projects like this work in other communities. As a long time Tech I want to work in a “Real” theatre in my own community. We need to take back, restore and open this theatre for the Arts and the Community. I will help & support a serious person or group who wants to bring back the National/State Theater back to life. This is The Theatre that Should be saved!

quonundrum on October 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Donald the tile seems to be original from other pictures I have seen. Also the image at the top of the page is from 1954.

One main issue you will run into if you can re-open is the California regulations regarding parking for theaters. Since the State Theater has not been in continuous operation from before the regs it would need to comply just as if it was new construction. (Yuba city had this same problem when they someone was trying to revamp the Sutter Theater. You need off street parking, “one (1) space for each three (3) fixed seats, plus one (1) space for each twenty-eight (28) square feet of assembly area.”

So some were around 570 regular Parking Spaces and then another 12 Handicapped Parking Spaces. Unless you are planning to purchase an adjacent property for the sole purpose of building a parking structure… there just isn’t enough room.

Good Luck

Mikeyisirish on September 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

And I hope that you do restore and reopen the State, Kirk. I’d love to go back and reshoot it in all it’s restored glory!

Mikeyisirish on September 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here. A Few photos taken September 1, 2012 can be seen here and here.

Inspired_3rdGrader on August 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

Awe… Thank You Donald for replying to the message. She will be so thrilled to see this message and she would love to be apart of everything. My name is Kristin (Im her her Mother) and my daughters name is Madison. :) This will be very excited when I let her know.

DonaldKirk on August 12, 2012 at 8:54 pm

OOPS… Sorry for the Typos above.

DonaldKirk on August 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Well, I have it set to notify me of any new posts about the State; and 8 minutes after you posted your message I’m replying. Hipefully we will be able to get the current owner to sell to me. At the moment I’m profucing a U.S. West Coast Concert toru for 2013; and hopefully when it’s over Mr. Benny will sell. Don’t ask how much I plan to make producing the tour; but I will have enough cash to buy it. Tell your daughter to pray that I end up getting it. I have a list of volunteers willing to help; and I’m sure they’d like your daughter to help them.

Inspired_3rdGrader on August 12, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Today my 8 Year old girl and I drove down E street headed to Yuba City to visit her Grandmother. On our way she was looking out the window and says, “Mom, that building called State, what was it?” I told her it used to be a theatre. She replied, “Well, what kind? Movies,plays,puppet shows?” I said I am not sure. As we drove by her head is turned all the way around keeping her eyes on the State, when it was out of sight she faces the front and says, “Mom, when we get home could I use your computer and look on the internet on the history of that building?” I have never heard anything like this come from her and without thinking much of it I told her “Sure”. We were out and about for hours and the second we walked in the door she asked if she could use the computer. I told her I would help her after I got some of my things done. Of course she asked about 10 times after that and finally I said ok lets look. We found this website and she read aloud to her father and I all the comments everyone had written. After she was done she said, “I want to volunteer to help.” So persistant to get me to understand she was SO serious, she said she wanted to tell Donald Kirk she wants to contribute to making the State everything he says he wants to make it to be. She is so filled with excitement she is sitting next to me at this momment making sure I follow threw with the message. She would like Donald Kirk (if you happen to read this) to know that when you buy the Theatre she will come and help do anything she can to make it into the dream you have discribed in your posts. As her mother I can say this is all so very heart warming to see her so excited. She believes she will have a part in making the State Theatre come back to life as long as she can get this message to Donald Kirk. :) Good Luck with what you are trying to achieve.

DonaldKirk on July 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I now am putting together a U.S. Tour for 2011 Australia’s Got Talent Winner (A look/sound alike of Queen’s late singer Freddie Mercury). Thomas Crane makes you think Freddie has reincarnidated in him. I will be using some of the profits from this tour to help acquire and refurbish theatres like the State (hopefully the State). I need locations in/near Marysville, of large outdoors venues, High School, or college football stadiums, to host one of Thomas' concerts in. This is an ongoing effort to get and reopen the Marysville State Theatre for live-stage and film festivals (yes even Rocky Horror Picture Show).

DonaldKirk on July 18, 2012 at 11:18 am

I might add, that if we can get the theatre from Mr. Benny, the Marquee shown in the above picture will be replicated; as will the vertical State sign. I agree with the one post, that the current marquee is ugly. As for the 1977ish tile, if it’s actually original, it will be cleaned and repaired. If it is an add-on, it will be replaced with whatever was original to the theatre. Once restored, or replaced with like new tile. ot will look a whole lot better. Most theatre’s had tile entranceways. My purpose is to bring back it’s glory; with whatever improvements that are “required” (new sound system, DVD projection equipment, stage lights, wiring, ADA restrooms, etc.). Original looks is what people expect of a prize theatre’s restoration.

DonaldKirk on July 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

AnnaBananna: The ad states the property is Off-Market (Not For Sale At This Time). Thanks Anyway!!!

EVERYONE ELSE: Apparantly the owner of the building next to the State (on the corner) reads these posts, as he has contacted me and has someone he thinks might be able to get Mr. Benny to talk with me about his selling the State. Hopefully this is a positive, that will lead to the State (and also the Marysville Hotel) being acquired, restored and open as viable venues.

AnnaBananna on April 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Donald…I just happened upon this page and another, looking into historical buildings in the area. I dont know if you succeeded contacting the owner, but this is a listing for Hotel Marysville…I dont know how old it is..

DonaldKirk on February 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

We are also having trouble contacting the owner of the Capitol Theatre in New London, CT. It was bought from the city for $1. Plus back $20,000. property taxes; with the agreement to restore the theatre (over 1700 seating capacity). The 2 owners there have also done nothing; and refuse to answer inquiries from anyone including the city. We want both of these thetres (and the Hotel Marysville); and will keep working to acquire all of these. With a 90' wide stage, we could produce any type of show. We’d love to bring the current version of Lord Of The Dance and other show of that calliber to Marysville’s State Theatre.

jmetcalf on February 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm

State Theater was the National Theater..

The original theater burned on the night of July 28, 1926 and was rebuilt bigger 11 months later on September 14, 1927 as the National Theater. Built by contractor I.C. Evans at a cost of $250,000. There was a temperary theater on the site during the construction. The National was a 1672 seat play and movie house, with an orchestra of 9 and a 90 by 40 foot stage. It also included 2 storefronts and 6 offices. Under the stage there are 11 dressing rooms. It was remodeled in Aug 1936 and changed its name to the State Theater. Remodeled again in the 1970’s when it was bought by United Artist. They turned the balcony into a double screen. Leaving it with the 3 screens it now has. CLosed in the late 1990’s. Fire took some of the concetion in 2005.

My dad worked there in the 1980’s when i was a kid under manager Joe Serry. I remember taking an elivator into the basement and seeing a bunch of old costums and tophats. And being in the projection booth, with a toilet next to a fruit drink fountain. It brings good memories and I would love to see it restored. •John Metcalf