State Theatre

148 W. Main Street,
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Fox Eastern Theatres Corp., W.S. Butterfield Theaters Inc.

Architects: Homer Harper

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

State Theatre...Benton Harbor Michigan

The Art Moderne-style State Theatre, located on Main Street near Colfax Avenue opened May 14, 1942 with Gene Tierney in “Sundown”. It was operated by the Butterfield chain until the 1960’s. In February 1967 it was taken over by Fox Eastern Theatres Corp.

During the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was one of four theatres open in Benton Harbor, along with the Liberty Theatre, City Theatre, and Lake Theatre, all of which have their own pages on Cinema Treasures.

By 2022, only the State Theatre remains standing. It is owned by the Benton Harbor Downtown Development Authority (BHDDA). The previous owner gave the theatre to the BHDDA to be restored and reopened for the benefit of the community. It is in the initial assessment phase of their redevelopment. They anticipate the facade will be restored with the lobby, auditorium, and stage to be rehabilitated to allow for use for live performances and film as it was when it first opened in 1942. The community is requested to support the restoration and reopening to come.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre on April 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Here is part of a 2/22/67 article from the Benton Harbor News-Palladium:

The Twin Cities' version of Balaban & Katz today turned over his theater properties to another firm with a time honored movie name. Harry Rubin announced he has leased the State, Starlite and St. Joseph Auto theaters to Fox Eastern Theaters Corp,, which is part of the second largest movie house circuit in the U.S.

Rubin said he is planning a year of semi-retirement and a lot of travel with his wife. Sometime during these trips he will decide on future business plans and location. Fox Eastern, based in New York City, is an offshoot of 20th Century Fox and a subsidiary of National General Theatres Corp. of Los Angeles, whose holdings cover 250 theaters, including Grauman’s Chinese and Cathay Circle. Fox Eastern presently operates 14 theaters with six more under construction.

Rubin came to Benton Harbor from Michigan City in 1948, when some obituaries were being written for the film industry. He took over the State and City theaters. The City was a small shoot ‘em up action houseâ€"a medium that virtually has vanished in the U.S. While it fell victim to television and the outdoor theaters, the State prospered. Rubin continually improved the theater on West Main street, and the last remodeling in October 1965 dressed it into a plush place with push-back seats. His promotional flair was just as evident in the outdoor Starlite acquired in 1955, and the St. Joseph Auto theater, purchased in 1960, and the location of a drive-in restaurant that opened last summer.

Bob Smith, vice president of Fox, said no major changes are planned in the operation of the three Twin Cities theaters. Tom Meredith, who joined Rubin two and a half years ago, will remain as supervisor for Fox.

kencmcintyre on June 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Here is a June 1942 ad from the News-Palladium:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Don Lewis’s photo shows that, behind that ugly false front, the State Theatre has nice, decorative brickwork similar to that of Homer Harper’s Loma Theatre in Coloma, though the State also had a bit of ornate decoration now concealed by the angled sections of the false front. This would probably be a very handsome building if that ill-advised remodeling, which was probably done in the 1970s, would be undone.

rivest266 on February 16, 2018 at 2:00 pm

This opened on May 14th, 1942 Grand opening in photo section and above

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