State Theatre

214 Main Street,
Lexington, KY 40507

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Schine Circuit Inc.

Architects: John J. Curtis, Leon K. Frankel

Firms: Frankel and Curtis

Functions: Live Performances, Movies

Styles: Atmospheric, Spanish Renaissance

Previous Names: Downtown Cinema, Movies on Main

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News About This Theater


The State Theatre opened on April 20, 1929 with Norman Kerry in “Trial Marriage”. It was located next to the larger Kentucky Theatre on Main Street. The State Theatre could seat 950 in its Atmospheric/Spanish-style auditorium. The State Theatre was built by the Switow family, which also had the Kentucky Theatre built seven years prior. By 1941, the State Theatre was operated by the Schine Circuit.

On January 28, 1964, the State Theatre became an “art house” called the Downtown Cinema screening foreign films. By the 1970’s, it was showing adult movies. On October 10, 1985 it was renamed Movies on Main. In 1996, the State Theatre was restored and reopened, serving as an “annex” to the neighboring Kentucky Theatre and showing films as well as presenting live entertainment.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

williame303 on October 18, 2004 at 4:25 pm

I recently attended a live taping of the “Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour” at the State Theatre.

The following is from the Kentucky Theatre website:

“… pleased with the success of the [Kentucky] theater, the Lafayette Amusement Company decided to build another next door. In April of 1929, the completed State Theater opened with 888 seats, a "Spanish Influenced Decor,” and a separate entrance off the street from its larger next-door neighbor. The Frankel and Curtis contractors of Lexington completed the project for about $200,000.

“In the ‘60’s the State Theater reopened after closing for a few years. In the '70’s it devoted its screen almost entirely to adult entertainment, and in the '80’s, just six years after a major renovation project on the Kentucky, both theaters burned on October 2nd of 1987. Although the owners wanted to reopen very soon, it would be almost five years before Lexington would enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Kentucky again.

“On Halloween of 1997, there was cause for celebration as the State Theater reopened 10 years after the fire.”

The State was restored “in spirit.” It’s charming, but clearly a 1990s re-interpretation of the original.

TLSLOEWS on April 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Cool shots Chuck.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 10, 2017 at 7:42 am

The partnership of architects Leon K. Frankel and John J. Curtis was formed in 1919. Frankel’s son James S. Frankel joined the firm as a draftsman in 1933 and became a partner in 1945.

DavidZornig on September 29, 2018 at 8:21 pm

1933 photo added credit University Of Kentucky. Double feature of “The Phantom Of Crestwood” and “Haunted Gold”, both released the previous year. Research credit Captain Bijou.

rivest266 on November 17, 2020 at 2:11 pm

also posted a reopening ad from May 14th, 1933.

rivest266 on November 17, 2020 at 4:52 pm

reopened as Cinema on January 28th, 1964 showing art movies. Grand opening ad posted.

Cinema openingCinema opening Sun, Feb 2, 1964 – 54 · Lexington Leader (Lexington, Kentucky) ·

rivest266 on November 18, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Reopened as Movies on Main on October 10th, 1985. Grand opening ad posted.

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