Golden State Theatre

417 Alvarado Street,
Monterey, CA 93940

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Golden State Theatre

A budget Atmospheric style, the Golden State Theatre originally seated 1,600. Rather than a sky with twinkling stars, the State Theatre has a painted canopy with bits of "sky" around the edges. The many coves and niches were backlit with three colors (red, blue, amber) with the upper-most coves back lit with three color neon.

The auditorium gives the feeling of being in an outdoor Spanish courtyard.

Even with the balcony divided into two theatres, the State Theatre is still largely intact. There is an immense amount of unused space on the second and third floors above the lobby.

The present Wurlitzer pipe organ was installed in 1992 replacing the original instrument removed in 1954. The organ console sits on the original 1926 hydraulic lift. The theatre was equipped with space for four organ chambers, though just two have ever been used.

Designed by the Bay Area firm of Reid Brothers, the theatre opened August 6, 1926 and was a part of the Golden State circuit. In 1967 the State was sold to United Artists. The relatively unobtrusive triplexing was done in 1976 after an unsuccessful campaign to get the City of Monterey to buy the theatre.

Through the 1990’s, there has been another campaign of various groups to convince the City to buy the State as an adjunct to its conference/convention facility. The city has clearly stated that as long as more than one organization desires to buy the theatre, they (the City) will not support either group. The only real option (should the theatre ever end its commercial status)is for the city of Monterey to own and restore the theatre as have countless other cities across the world.

It reopened under new ownership in February 2012.

Contributed by Tom DeLay

Recent comments (view all 64 comments)

tomdelay on March 4, 2009 at 6:44 am

Still for sale —$8m—in 2009.

tomdelay on March 16, 2009 at 7:39 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.

COCowboy on April 21, 2009 at 9:00 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.

CrankyBeach on October 8, 2009 at 7:23 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.

MrMonterey on January 31, 2010 at 12:37 am

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.

CSWalczak on May 17, 2012 at 6:29 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

Dramatrauma on June 12, 2012 at 1:06 am

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.

YaledMot on February 18, 2013 at 12:03 am

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 25, 2014 at 11:39 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.

paulnelson on June 26, 2014 at 3:20 am

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

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