State Theatre

126 W. State Street,
Olean, NY 14760

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Previous Names: Lang's Dreamland Theatre, New Dreamland Theatre, New Gem Theatre, Gem Theatre

Nearby Theaters

State Theatre - West State Street, Olean NY  - Demolition 1960's

Lang’s Dreamland Theatre was opened prior to December 1911. It was listed in the 1914-1915 edition of American Motion Picture Directory. By March 1916 it had been renamed New Dreamland Theatre. The New Dreamland Theatre was closed in June 1918.

It was reopened as the New Gem Theatre on July 4, 1918 by Charles T. Nickum who had been operating an earlier Gem Theatre at 241 N. Union Street. The Gem Theatre is listed in the 1928 Film Daily Yearbook with 500 seats. By 1930 it had been renamed State Theatre and had been taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management.

Contributed by Ridgewood Ken

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2014 at 12:19 pm

There was an earlier theater called the Gem in Olean. Its demise is noted in The Moving Picture World of August 4, 1917:

“The Gem theater, Olean, N. Y., has closed permanently. G. T. Nickum, proprietor, has taken over the Havens theater, that city.”
Other items in the same issue mention houses called the Olympic and the Grand then operating in Olean.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm

The Dreamland Theatre is mentioned in the January 2, 1915, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“Lang’s Dreamland, a moving picture show of Olean, N. Y., is being improved. New chairs and decorations will be a feature. An up-to-date service is being engaged in Buffalo for this house.”
If the name had not been moved from another house, the Dreamland was already in operation by 1907, when it was mentioned in the November 16 issue of The Billboard. It was then presenting vaudeville. Lang’s Dreamland was advertising in the Olean Times-Herald at least as early as December, 1911.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm

A 1914-1915 city directory lists five theaters at Olean, and this house is listed simply as Lang’s Theatre, at 128 W. State Street. A New Dreamland Theatre, not conducted my Mr. Lang, had opened at 164 N. Union Street. The other three were the earlier Gem at 245 N. Union, the Havens at 115 W. State, and the Grand at 257 N. Union.

dallasmovietheaters on January 4, 2017 at 7:57 pm

This location was home to the first photoplay house and third theater in Olean launching on September 15, 1906. The building was originally constructed in 1876 by John G. Schultze and was referred to as the Schultze Building. It housed a billiard hall and saloon. The location likely came available as a lease expired in the building’s 30th year. Lewis N. Lang opened the Dreamland operating in this location for nearly eight years before leaving the industry temporarily. In 1914, a string of new operators tried to make the location work including a return by L.N. Lang on February 14, 1916 as Lang’s Theatre.

Lang left again as the theatre struggled against more current competition. On February 1, 1918, Angelo Scinta became the last person to try Dreamland in the title relaunching as the New Dreamland Theatre with “The Lost Express.” This was actually the second location to use the moniker New Dreamland as 264 N. Union Street housed the New Dreamland / Robinson’s Dreamland that was in operation from 1908 to 1915.

Charles T. Nickum next leased this location when Scinta closed after three months. Nickum relaunched on July 4, 1918 as the New Gem Theatre. Nickum used the name previously in Olean operating Nickum’s Gem Theatre at 241 N. Union Street which had opened December 18, 1912 on a five-year lease. It had closed on June 30, 1917 with Nickum briefly taking on the Havens Theatre. Once the neighboring Strand Theatre folded, Nickum decided to modernize the aging Gem.

The theatre was largely torn down with the floor lowered to provide more modern seating angles to the screen. The theatre transformed to a 600-seat theatre by expanding the building’s height and overall dimensions by local archiitect A. W. E. Schoenberg. It opened as Nickum’s Gem Theatre on March 8, 1921 with Cecil B. De Mille’s “Forbidden Fruit.” A new Marr & Colton pipe organ was a hit on opening night.

D.M Dusenberry and Affiliated Theatres took over Nickum’s Gem rebranding it as the State Theatre opening June 12, 1927 with “The Texas Streak.” Warner Brothers took over the State reopening to the public with an extensive remodeling as part of the Depression work stimulus. The Warner Bros’ State Theatre opened on November 11, 1930 with Vitaphone sound and Mayor Earl C. Vedder on hand. Warners also bought the Haven Theatre. The State continued the address' run as a place of entertainment within Olean.

muviebuf on January 4, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Upon demolition the 35MM projectors from the State Theatre were donated to St. Bonaventure University where they were installed in the then new Reily Center and used for campus weekly free movie Sunday night showings for many years.

talb83 on May 31, 2017 at 4:12 am

As a boy I twice “snuck in” to the State with a couple friends long after it was closed,once around 1965 and in 1969 or 70,not long before it was torn down.We went in through a trap door in the roof and entered into the very small balcony next to the projectionist booth which was accessed by a ladder from the balcony.What surprised me the most was the small,square screen,I guess the State closed before the switch to larger,wider screens.Just wish we would have taken a camera.

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