In 1928, William Seitz opened the State Theater motion picture house on the site of the old West House Hotel. It had a bowling alley in the rear.
Seitz initially leased the theater to J. Meyer Schine of New York State and The Schine Theatre officially opened on October 11, 1928. “The Night Watch” starring Billie Dove was the film to see.
The theater is located in the upper left corner of the photo. The perfect spot to attract visitors arriving on the Lake Erie steamboats or by train, as it was just a short walk from either. signs along the left side of the street feature: Sweaters, Rosino, Restaurant, Dentist, Drugs and at the end – Warners State. The cook building (on the right) had a dining room.
In September 1930 The Schine Theatre was taken over by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. Later in 1933, it was operated by Seitz Theatre Company as the family took over management.
The Theatre fell into despair in the 60’s and 70’s and with the advent of malls and decline of business the motion picture theater closed in the 1980s.
In 1987, two local women, Marie Hildebrandt and Marlene Boas, started an effort to preserve the State Theater. Local banks and philanthropist Ruth Parker provided the necessary funding and the theater was preserved for the community.
The Sandusky State Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. In June 1990, The Sandusky State Theatre went through its biggest renovation.
In the mid-1940’s the Golden Voiced Marvel Page Organ was introduced to The Schine Theatre. This organ is one of four in the country. The organ was sold to a gentleman from Detroit in 1961 and left the theatre. As interest in this classic building gained momentum and renovations progressed, the Golden Voiced Marvel Page Organ was returned home at The Sandusky State Theatre in 1995.
On October 11, 2003, The State Theatre celebrated its 75th anniversary, with a performance by Michael Bolton.
The State Theater is a key contributor to Sandusky’s downtown redevelopment and the quality of life for the area, offering a variety of concerts and other musical productions, plays, dance, lectures and even the occasional motion picture. It is the heir to the Ohio Theater, Biemiller’s Opera House, and other entertainment venues of Sandusky’s past.
This photo was taken in the 1970-80s and shows the theatre before its restoration in the early 1990s. the marquee dates back to the 1950s and was removed during the restoration. You can see how the building’s age was affecting the exterior.
Here is a great article from October 2019 about the State Theatre that includes a glimpse into its history of performers (that famous signature wall) and the truly remarkable organ. You can read it HERE.
Jun 10, 2020 – tragedy strikes this historic building — A severe thunderstorm obliterated downtown Sandusky’s most iconic building. At about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, strong winds swept through the area, striking the Sandusky State Theatre and destroying its structural back portion abutting against Water Street. Bricks and other building material rained down and piled high atop Water Street. The Theatre board vows to rebuild as donations start coming in.