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State Theatre

State Theatre

Architects: Weeks and Day

First Opened: 12th November 1921 (102 years ago)

Former Names: Loew’s State

Status: Currently in use by a church group

Website: btgla.com Open website in new window

Telephone: (213) 629-2939 Call (213) 629-2939

Address: 703 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014 Show address in Google Maps (new window)

The State Theatre opened as Loew’s State in November 1921 and was their west coast showcase movie theatre, later becoming the downtown Los Angeles home for first-run MGM movies. It is the largest theatre within the Broadway Theatre District by audience capacity (originally reported variously as 2,404 and 2,450; now 2,119).

Featured Photos

Detailed Information

United Building
United Building

The State was designed by Charles Peter Weeks and William Day, of architectural firm Weeks & Day, in a Spanish Renaissance style, and is incorporated within a splendid 12-story Beaux Arts style office block called the United Building. Situated at the intersection of downtown Los Angeles’ busiest retail streets of the early 1920s, the building extends half a block along 7th St and one-third of a block along Broadway, and is the city’s largest brick-clad building. The theatre originally boasted two marquees with entrances on both Broadway and 7th, however the 7th St entrance was closed in 1936. The theatre’s marquees were originally simple bronze canopies with single-line lettering but were later replaced with more elaborate two-line marquees. The surviving marquee on Broadway was installed in 1937.

Auditorium from House Left Box
Auditorium from House Left Box

The auditorium is vast and virtually square in shape, with a lavish Spanish Rococo style ceiling. A particular highlight is the Billiken figure occupying a niche above the center of the proscenium arch (the Billiken, as a good luck charm, sprang from the height of the “Mind-Cure” craze in the United States at the start of the twentieth century). The State also boasts a quite sensational fire/safety curtain, by Armstrong-Powers, depicting a futuristic fantasy city of onion-domed towers surrounded by planets and comet trails.

At the time of the State’s opening the theatre’s projection booth boasted a feature which Loew’s proclaimed as unique: a “shower bath” with hot and cold water for the projectionist! No sign of the “shower bath” is now evident. The projection booth was exceedingly well equipped, boasting three film projectors, two spotlights (followspots), one floodlight, and a double stereopticon (a Brenograph or similar). A vacant “seat call” system was installed in the theatre, designed by the theatre’s manager Nat Holt and stage director W.F. Scott, and was called the Holtscott System.

Projection Booth
Projection Booth

In 1925 West Coast Theatres took over management of the theatre. The original 3-manual, 18-rank Möller theatre organ was replaced with a 3-manual, 11-rank Wurlitzer Style 235 (Opus 981) and at the same time the vaudeville operation was turned-over to Fanchon and Marco. The State became one of their flagship venues alongside the Paramount Theatre further up the street.

In 1927 the State advertised that its new refrigeration plant (air cooling system) was now in operation. There was, after all, new competition coming such as the air-cooled Tower Theatre just one block down the street!

In 1929 a Bakersfield act called The Gumm Sisters played at the State, featuring a lead singer who earned the nickname “Leather Lungs” for to her ability to be heard clearly at the rear of the 125ft deep auditorium. As the Great Depression took hold and vaudeville declined (vaudeville ceased at the State in the mid 1930s) the Gumm Sisters moved to Culver City to appear in experimental Technicolor musicals, and “Leather Lungs” changed her name to Judy Garland.

Upper Lobby
Upper Lobby

As was the case with the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, operation of the State was turned-over to United Artists in 1949 as result of the consent decree ruling separating the studios from their theatre chains. After some minor redecoration the theatre reopened under United Artists’ control on 2nd December 1949, however the Loew’s State name persisted well into the 1950s until the signage was eventually changed to The State in 1955.

In January 1963 Metropolitan Theatres took on the lease however the State slowly declined – similarly to most other movie theatres – and featured many general release movies dubbed into Spanish in addition to repeats. Ultimately, Metropolitan Theatres closed the State in 1997.

The State has been used as a filming location several times, and for its role as New York’s Bowery Theatre in Wild Bill (1995) Link opens in new window the production company re-draped the proscenium arch with swags and soft decorations which remain in place to this day.

The State is owned by the Broadway Theatre Group, who also own the Palace, the Los Angeles and Tower theatres, all on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. Until early 2018 the State was leased to church group Cathedral Of Faith.

As of mid-2018 the Broadway Theatre Group were seeking tenants for theatre-related use, however in June 2021 the church group Cathedral Of Faith announced their return to, and grand reopening of, the theatre on 27th June 2021.

Movie, TV & Music Video Appearances


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Listed/Landmark Building Status

How do I visit the State Theatre?

The theatre does not currently offer theatre tours. In the past the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial District Walking Tour Link opens in new window has gained access to the State Theatre however this may not always be the case - check ahead for details.

Further Reading



Technical Information

Flying System
System Type
Originally a hemp house, a counterweight system was fitted probably in the late 1920s (Single Purchase Counterweight; wire-guide)
Fly Floor
27ft 10in above Stage floor, fly floors located both sides
Approximately 30 (5 lines per Lineset)
Lock Rail
Stage Right at Stage level
Movie Projection
Projection Booth to Screen
Approx 120ft
Screen Dimensions
33ft 4in by 18ft 6in (wide format 44ft 6in by 18ft 6in)
Stage Dimensions
Proscenium Height
Approx 34ft
Proscenium Width
48ft 9in
Centerline to SL wall
48ft 5in, with Dressing Rooms overhanging the last 10ft 5in
Centerline to SR lock rail
31ft 2in
Historic Photos & Documents
Files displayed in this section may be subject to copyright; refer to our Copyright Fair Use Statement regarding our use of copyrighted media.

Photos of the State Theatre

Jump to Photo Section:

  1. Auditorium: Orchestra (Main Floor)
  2. Auditorium: Balcony
  3. Auditorium Closeups
  4. Events at the State Theatre
  5. Lobby and Public Areas
  6. Exterior
  7. Organ Chambers
  8. Backstage
  9. Projection Booth
Auditorium: Orchestra (Main Floor)
Auditorium: Balcony

The Spanish Renaissance interior was designed by San Francisco firm Weeks & Day. The large chandelier hung over the balcony is not original to the theatre, however we do not have a specific date for when it was added.

The five “bump-outs” along the Balcony front were not used for stage lighting; rather they were originally uplighters.

The areas currently containing stained glass were originally boxes, housing 8-10 seats per side. In later years photos show these areas out of use. The organ chambers are located above the boxes (see section below for photos of the organ chambers).

Auditorium Closeups
Events at the State Theatre

The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Link opens in new window held an open house event at the State Theatre in early 2018. The Los Angeles Conservancy Link opens in new window presented a screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939) Link opens in new window at the theatre in June 2018.

Lobby and Public Areas

The lobbies were originally carpeted with what appears to have been a floral design. The Upper Lobby featured comfortable sofas and fan palms, and the elaborate grillework in the ceiling conceals ventilation grilles. The theatre originally boasted two entrances, one from Broadway and one from 7th St, however the 7th St entrance was removed in 1936.


The enclosing building, the United Building, cost $2.5M to construct in 1921 and is Los Angeles’ largest brick-clad building. The theatre originally boasted two entrances, one from Broadway and one from 7th St, however the 7th St entrance was removed in 1936. The Broadway entrance has featured several marquees over the years, with the current neon incarnation having been installed in 1949.

Organ Chambers

Located above the boxes, the organ chambers have fairly substantial grilles out into the auditorium so the sound must have been somewhat muted. The House Right chamber is accessed via stairway and short ladder from the Auditorium Box below it whereas the House Left chamber is accessed via two ladders from the fire escape outside the Stage Right third floor dressing room corridor.


Originally a hemp house, the State was fitted with a counterweight flying system probably in the late 1920s. The pin rails from the original hemp house configuration still exist on the fly floors at both sides of the stage above the dressing rooms. The current flying system comprises around 30 linesets and is notable for being operated from the offstage side, as opposed to the usual onstage position.

Both sides of the stage feature a perch attached to the rear of the proscenium wall approximately 12ft up. These would have linked to a lighting bridge just upstage of the fire and house curtains. The lighting bridge no longer exists.

The theatre features “trunk doors” on either side of the stage, a feature we think is unique amongst Los Angeles theatres. A rope line would have been lowered from the grid and tied around an artiste’s traveling trunk, then used to raise the trunk to the appropriate Dressing Room level where it would have been hauled-in through the trunk door and moved to the Dressing Room. The reverse procedure would take place upon load-out.

Projection Booth

The Projection Booth was proclaimed to be the largest in the world according to the Exhibitors Trade Review in December 1921. It was said to contain a shower bath, with hot running water, however there is currently no evidence that a shower bath was ever included!

The booth features two access points: a door from the rear of the auditorium and access from the fourth floor of the office building adjoining the theatre. This means the projection booth is accessible by elevator, probably a unique feature amongst historic Los Angeles theatres.

The booth has three main projector positions with two racks for audio equipment on the right side. The room to the right of the main projector room houses electrical equipment and the DC generators. The room to the left of the main projector room features a single projection portal and may have been used for standalone slide projection. This room links back to the office buidling via a short corridor.

In Spring 2018 the Broadway Theatre Group Link opens in new window brought the projection equipment back into a working state in preparation for the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Link opens in new window Last Remaining Seats screening which was held on 2nd June (click for more info and photos over on our sister website theatre.mikehume.com).

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