State Theatre

913 Washington Avenue,
Bay City, MI 48708

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State Theatre, Bay City (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Butterfield Theaters

Architects: Charles Howard Crane

Functions: Live Performances, Movies, Special Events

Styles: Art Deco, Mayan Revival

Previous Names: Bijou Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, Bay Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 989.892.2660
Manager: 517.892.2682

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News About This Theater

State Theatre, Bay City, MI - auditorium

Built as the Bijou Theatre in 1908, this former vaudeville palace was remodeled in 1916 and was operated by the W.S. Butterfield Theaters chain. added movies to its programming and by 1921 it had been renamed the Orpheum Theatre.

In 1930, architect C. Howard Crane was hired to gut and rebuild the interior of the theatre which he did in an Art Deco/Mayan aesthetic. The theatre was renamed again as the Bay Theatre and it had 710 seats. By the 1950’s, the Bay Theatre was renamed again as the State Theatre and received a new marquee.

The theatre was later saved by the Friends of the State and is currently owned by the Bay City Downtown Development Authority.

The theatre’s new owners embarked on a massive renovation, with over $2 million in funds raised for the project, it was completed by early-2006.

Contributed by Nick Suchyta, Dennis Atkinson

Recent comments (view all 28 comments)

Shemphoward on September 24, 2008 at 9:44 am

Re: the new marquee…………
Really would have loved to see a closer replica more true to the old “Bay” marquee, than this flashy digital animated thing. Yes, I’m a purist, but I really think this missed the mark.

kencmcintyre on January 6, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Here are some photos of the marquee coming down from the Bay City Times in August 2008:

zabriskie on February 2, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Sorry, but I think the original marquee was much nicer and historically significant. the new one is flashy but too plastic.

TLSLOEWS on December 27, 2009 at 11:55 am

New Marquee is nice, but I like the old one better,but no one asked me.

Karen Colizzi Noonan
Karen Colizzi Noonan on March 26, 2011 at 7:50 am

Theatre Historical Society will be visiting this theater during our 2011 Conclave – “The Michigan Roads Less Traveled” June 21-25. See the website for details

LouRugani on September 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Built in 1908 during the booming lumbering era in Michigan, the STATE Theatre was known as the BIJOU and was redone in 1930 by C. Howard Crane, who used local labor using hand-crafted plaster casts for the 9,500 square-foot theatre. As years passed and owners changed, the Mayan murals were painted over and water damage became evident. The Dow Chemical Company Foundation provided financial support for the restoration project.

DavidZornig on March 11, 2019 at 6:37 pm

1908 post card as Bijou Theatre added courtesy Walter Jung. It shows how drastic the exterior remodeling was compared to the photos of it as State Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 18, 2022 at 10:11 pm

The June 24, 1916 issue of Moving Picture World said that W. S. Butterfield had recently been in Bay City making arrangements for the remodeling and redecoration of the Bijou Theatre. Plans included a new ventilation and cooling system and two new Simplex projection machines.

The Bijou was originally built for owner-operator J. D. Pilmore, with a notice that construction contracts had been let appearing in the July, 1908 issue of The Bricklayer and Mason. Pilmore had operated an earlier Bay City house also called the Bijou, at least as early as 1905. The earlier Bijou was listed in the 1907 edition of Polk’s Michigan Gazetteer as being at the northwest corner of Center and Madison.

Paul Fortini
Paul Fortini on May 16, 2023 at 4:45 am

A photo of the marquee can be found here

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