State-Lake Theatre

190 N. State Street,
Chicago, IL 60601

Unfavorite 30 people favorited this theater

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Balaban & Katz Corp., Orpheum Circuit, Plitt Theatres, RKO

Architects: G. Albert Lansburgh, Cornelius Ward Rapp, George W. Leslie Rapp

Firms: Rapp & Rapp

Functions: Office Space, Television Studio

Styles: French Renaissance

Previous Names: RKO State-Lake Theatre

Nearby Theaters

News About This Theater

The last picture show at the State-Lake Theatre

Built in 1919 as a vaudeville house for the Orpheum Circuit, the State-Lake Theatre opened on March 17, 1919 with Trixie Friganza topping the bill. Fronted by an office building designed by architectural firm Rapp & Rapp, the auditorium was designed by architect G. Albert Lansburgh. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 13 ranks organ. It later became the major venue for the RKO theatre chain in Chicago (along with the Palace Theatre on W. Randolph Street). The theatre is named for its location on the corner of N. State Street and W. Lake Street, across the street from the State and Lake “El” Station.

It was built a couple years before the Chicago Theatre, which sits just across the street from the State-Lake Theatre, by the same architects, Rapp & Rapp, who designed it in a similar style as the French Renaissance style Chicago Theatre, though the State-Lake Theatre was nowhere near as grandiose as its cousin across the street. The theatre became part of the Balaban & Katz chain in 1938, which continued a policy of live acts and movies until 1941, when the State-Lake Theatre switched to movies-only.

After closing on June 28, 1984, the State-Lake Theatre’s interior was gutted and converted into studios and offices for the ABC network’s Chicago affiliate, WLS-TV.

The Rapp & Rapp designed exterior was restored to it’s 1920’s appearance (except for its marquee and ticket booth) and is still quite an impressive bookend to the Chicago Theatre across N. State Street.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 163 comments)

DavidZornig on March 16, 2019 at 10:19 pm

100th anniversary piece for tomorrow.

DavidZornig on June 21, 2019 at 8:15 am

Saul Smaizys 9/30/77-10/20/77 photo via Flickr. (misdated originally) Will enlarge in link.

DavidZornig on December 29, 2020 at 11:33 pm

1939 marquee photo credit Charles Dunlap via Flickr.

plugai on September 22, 2021 at 4:27 pm

The State Lake is the only Chicago theater I never saw a movie in. My Dad would drive our family in his 1966 Chrysler Newport “downtown” in the evenings and I do recall seeing outside the State /Lake one evening quite large advertising for One Million Years B.C. in 1966 with a life size cardboard cut out of Raquel Welch dressed in fur skins standing outside the glass doors! Years later, my friend who worked with me in theater, invited me across the street from the Chicago Theater we were working a theatrical play to visit with her husband who worked for Channel 7 for a tour of the Channel 7 facilities. The former State/Lake theater is still preserved in the Channel 7 facilities. From the news studio, to Oprah’s former studio. One could see evidence of the former theaters self. I’m glad I was able to observe architecture of the former theater.

DavidZornig on November 10, 2021 at 9:36 pm

Paul Dimler photo.

Broan on April 6, 2022 at 3:56 pm

Early lobby view

DavidZornig on June 7, 2022 at 8:01 pm

1972 photo with top of marquee. Image will enlarge within Flickr link.

DavidZornig on January 2, 2023 at 8:44 pm

11 seconds of marquee footage from 6/15/73-6/28/73.

Hachidan8 on November 7, 2023 at 11:47 am

I came here every weekend on the train to watch the same movie over and over. This theater held the honor of premiering the movie “The Exorcist” Dec. 26th 1973. It played at this theater for the next year and ten months straight. All the hype, the lines, the ambulances, the fainting, all happened here from 73 to 75. What a time to be alive.

DavidZornig on November 7, 2023 at 5:20 pm

Hachidan8, “The Exorcist” played at the State-Lake 2/15/74-6/13/74, and again 4/20/79-5/24/79 as a second run. “Papillon” preceded it 12/21/73-2/14/74. The Gateway Theatre featured it at the time of it’s release too. All films that played at the State-Lake 1964-1980 are listed by dates on page 5 in a 2007 comment. As are most of the other downtown theatres.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.