Golden State Theatre

417 Alvarado Street,
Monterey, CA 93940

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Showing 1 - 25 of 58 comments

paulnelson on June 25, 2014 at 10:20 pm

This elaborate and dramatic theatre should be saved and promoted. Historic work of cinematic design.

Dramatrauma on June 25, 2014 at 6:39 pm

The new owner/managers are the folks now running the Fox in Redwood City ( along with several other venues. They have already launched a full ‘season'of screenings and concerts.

YaledMot on February 17, 2013 at 7:03 pm

The State has reopened under new managment with the building owner remaining the same. Just before the fire, I was called in by the Monterey Church to assess the Wurlitzer which had not been used in 2 years. The Monterey Church had been told the organ was in bad shape and could not be played because of its “condition.” Total crock of BS. We got the organ playing and it played almost flawlessly after sitting for two years and completely without maintenance or tuning. The organ was not playable because the theatre owner did not want it playable!

Dramatrauma on June 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Im not thrilled that Monterey Church brings in a bigger crowd than the movie showings did. But, if theyre not at fault for the accident I hope they can maintain a presence at the State and keep supporting these new businesses that have brought life back to Alvarado. Better to have her thrilling Any audience as she should be than closed and folorn looking.This could be a blessing in disguise if the eletrical upgrade makes her more appealing to buyers, as certainly Warren Dewey should make back on the time and money hes put into the old girl.

I dont care What movie they show upon reopening: I’ll be there! I might even attend a church service…if they dont mind me taking pictures of the fixtures.

CSWalczak on May 17, 2012 at 1:29 am

This theater recently had to close because a fire damaged the building’s antiquated electrical system; repair and upgrades are being made. There may also be some changes in the offing regarding the building’s future use. View article

MrMonterey on January 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Since beginning their full time lease of the GST in November, Monterey Church has worked tirelessly to keep the building open to the public as a performing arts venue. They have worked hand in hand with the City of Monterey Planning Commission and have made numerous improvements to the building to bring it up to commercial code after years of neglect. Additionally, they have stated their intentions to maintain and continue to restore the historical artwork and architecture of the building.

For the first time in over a year, the Mighty Wurlitzer was serviced and used for the local EG Entertainment Conference, in which the Discovery Channel premiered their new HD movie “Life,” live at the GST. Ensemble Monterey continues to perform on stage on a quarterly basis, and in the coming months several film festivals and live musical performances will be held in the theatre.

Happily, the Golden State Theatre remains the crown jewel of downtown Monterey, leaving guests and performers still raving about its historical beauty and atmosphere.

CrankyBeach on October 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm

The third floor now houses the kids' church for Monterey Church, which is taking over the lease of the building on November 1, 2009.

COCowboy on April 21, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Long time no see…

I was a past Manager of the State. It is good to see that all has gotten done that you were planing. I’m sure you all don’t think of me as much as I think of you. I do remember you Tom, and Martin… but I’m not seeing any of his posts. I’m sure you don’t think of me because at the time I was consitered working with the “Enemy”. I Managed the State, and the Regency, under the Empoyment of United Artist. I was there from about ‘94 to '96.

The preservation Society was a great buch of people. You were fun to work with, and gave me memories I could have never gotten anywhere else. I still talk about the Silent Phantom of the Opera on Halloween, and the other silents I was so fortunate to help you put on while I was there. I was younger, so I’m not sure that I was completely trusted, yet you were still kind.

I was underpaid, over worked, and did the best I could. I know that while I was there I gave that theatre my all. I Love that Theatre. I love what you guys have done with it, and I Love that You were able to get it done, when I knew of a time that it might not have happened.

I was wonderering what has come of all the Area on the floor above the messanine. While I was there it was less then empty. I don’t even remember where the door was to access it was (Maybe through the booth). I know the pigions cause’d the booth some problems in my day.

Anyway, I’m glad that everything worked out, and you were able to see it the way you wanted to.

Hope “Barney” wasn’t too much trouble.

tomdelay on March 16, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Rumor is out on Alvarado Street that the theatre is in escrow (to close in April) to a Santa Cruz, CA based theatre group “looking to expand.”

Time will tell. If so, this can only be considerd a good thing.

tomdelay on March 4, 2009 at 1:44 am

Still for sale —$8m—in 2009.

Eric on June 28, 2008 at 10:13 pm

It’s for sale????

tomdelay on January 14, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Re: The photo posted on 1/14/08

It is too bad that ugly sheet metal “cap” is still sitting atop the original facade. That now rusty crap was added circa 1929 for the new vertical sign that was added to the facade. With a bit of luck, one of these days during a storm the “cap” will blow off and end up in the bay.

The 1929 vertical sign was huge and looked like a giant middle finger welcoming people to Alvarado Street.

That sign was said to have been so bright that you could easily read a newspaper at night under the thing.

tomdelay on August 30, 2007 at 1:50 am

Also, the header on this page needs to be updated. The “Chain: United Artists” should read “None”. UA/Regal vacated in September 2004. The “Firm: Reid Brothers” does not make any sense. The Architects for the theatre were the Reid Brothers. “Function: Movies” whould be changed to Performing Arts.

tomdelay on August 30, 2007 at 1:46 am

I am pleased to report that during the last year, the exterior of the theatre was more or less painted to its original color. The large mural from the 1930s on the back of the stage house was not yet restored—seems as though it would have taken about $26K to restore that mural back in the mid 1990s. I could only be worse in 2007. Regardless, the building looks far better than it did in its commercial first run movie days/daze.

jackwhittaker on August 30, 2007 at 12:50 am

I happen to own two ORIGINAL lobby lamps from the old Golden State theater. One is a gilded wrought iron standing lamp with a six sided “lantern” top w/amber glass topped with an ornate crown.
The other is a “candleabra” tall standing lamp with five electic candles on an ornate wrought iron base and top. Much like the one at the base of the balcony stairs in the remodel photo on the website.
They were puchased when I lived in Monterey in the mid to late 60’s for only five bucks each. They have graced my living room for years.

GaryParks on August 16, 2007 at 1:50 am

The present marquee, when first installed, was painted red and white. It was outlined in neon, and where the center panel which now says “Golden State Theatre” is, there were once vertical neon tubes, crowned by the name STATE, also in neon. The neon was removed in the 60s, when officials who thought they knew what was good for everyone prohibited most neon on Alvarado St., resulting, as in all cities that went through this process in those days, in a dark, drab, and forbidding nighttime streetscape.

tomdelay on May 22, 2007 at 6:48 pm


Go to and look in the historic photos section. There are a few shots of the original rectangular marquee with the leaded glass corners. I remember the original marquee and always felt the place looked cheapened with that triangular abortion adapted from the original marquee. I have had no reason to change my opinion about this truncated marquee since it was first used in 1967.

Patsy on October 25, 2006 at 7:14 pm

Somehow the front facade of that building just doesn’t seem to go with the modern looking marquee. Is there a photo of the marquee when the theatre opened on August 6, 1926?

tomdelay on March 19, 2006 at 10:11 pm

To StefOscope;

The Restoration efforts at the State started in 1992 by four of us, Brad Harlan, Gary Parks, Martin Schmidt, and myself started the installation of the organ. Ernie Smith was our guru for hositing the heavy organ parts up into the chambers.

Not too long after the organ was finished (1994), we started turning our attention to the theatre itself. With the exception of the removal of the UA-added balcony dividing wall, EVERYTHING you see in the auditorium was done by the four of us. None of us are any longer associated with the theatre, nor will we be under the present conditions.

I have sold the organ to the present owner of the theatre and am walking away from the place. The present owner has installed new seats on the main floor and loges, and restored the seats in teh upper balcony.

Much still needs to be done to bring the theatre to first class condition such as restoration of the ceiling, the upper most parts of the side walls and above the proscenium and a proper restoration of the stage. The exterior is still as bad a blight as it has been in the last few decades. However, the general interior effect, as far as the public is concerned, is a good impression and that is what it is all about—these are the people who will or will not keep the place open, not the present owner or any future owner. Without the public support of any ediface such as this, the place will fail.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 19, 2006 at 5:06 pm

A view of the exterior as photographed in 1997:

stefoscope on March 19, 2006 at 4:31 pm

I paid a visit to the Golden State recently, for an afernoon screening of “Vertigo”. The theatre is incredible inside. The lobby is plush, with antique furniture, drapes, tapestries hanging and an overall warm and cozy feeling that could only be had in the best of the vintage theatres. The work which went into restoring this place is quite impressive, and it’s almost hard to believe the interior is 80 years old. Everything looks fresh. The details, such as the lobby windows, looking into the auditorium, as well as the murals over the doorways, lend to whole charm. The film presentation was good, and the best part of all, they serve vintage sodas in the lobby. Now that’s class!

Patsy on February 4, 2006 at 10:59 am

Thank goodness the Golden State Theatre has remained the best preserved compared to not being there at all. Yes, we all have read about urban renewal of the 60’s and have seen what was done, but hopefully we are beyond that period of time and now have an appreciation for historical buildings and the legacy they mean to a community. Congrats on all that you have accomplished as your website is very very good! If I ever return to Monterey, I’ll come by and personally shake your hand!

tomdelay on February 4, 2006 at 10:51 am


You would be amazed at the difference of the theatre from then to now. It is by no means totally restored now, but the overall effect is pretty good.

Depending upon when you were in Monterey, there were once three major downtown theatres. The 1917 Strand/Rio/Regency still stands across the street from the State Theatre. Other than a facade, there is virtually nothing left of the original interior.

The 1904 T.A. Work Opera House/Monterey Theatre was demolished in 1967 during the urban renewal craze.

Smaller theatres such as the Star and Bagby Opera House/Rex Theatre were in operation thru the mid 1920s.

As to nearly intact, the State Theatre has remained the best preserved.

Patsy on February 4, 2006 at 10:06 am

Tom: Thanks for the on site explanation. Many years ago I visited beautiful Monterey, but at the time I wasn’t the theatre buff that I have become today so unfortunately missed seeing the historical Golden State. Although your website is really good and provides a great opportunity to see and learn about your theatre in CA.

tomdelay on February 4, 2006 at 9:30 am

The present triangular marquee is what is left of the original rectangular marquee. I remember the original marquee—by then painted a dull white—and it was much more attractive and fitting to the building. The chopped up marquee was done in 1967 when UA took over the State from United California Theatres.

A blade sign has no purpose on the facade of the State Theatre as it would take away from the orante detail that is above the entrance. Once/if the facade is restored, it will all make sense. The State has had some really dumb signs over the years. That 4 story monster
was the first. That sign was reduced by a story or two and remained the longest. Once that was removed, two clunky small angular signs were protruded into the upper portion of the facade on each side, near the urn.

Further, if you look at the facade, you will see that the upper 10' or so does not match what is below it. The reason for this is simple.

The original facade was “raised” for the vertical signs via a clunky sheet metal cap that remains to this day, not slowly enough rusting back to nature.

Blade signs are fine in the right circumstances. In Monterey, it was not original to the facade and each time some pile of sheet metal was added to the facade, it took away from the original elegant design.