The State Theater

Cleveland, Ohio


The State Theatre is located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It is part of a group of historical theaters known as Playhouse Square. It was designed by the noted theater architect Thomas W. Lamb and was built in 1921 by Marcus Loew to be the flagship of the Ohio branch of the Loew’s Theatres company.

Loew’s State Theatre was built in an Italian Renaissance style and was intended to show vaudeville shows and movies. It opened on February 5, 1921, seating 3,400. Because of the desirability of having the theater’s marquee on Euclid Avenue, the State Theatre was built at the back of the lot it shares with the Ohio Theatre, but with a 320-foot-long series of three lobbies. This was the world’s longest lobby serving a single theater, and it contained four huge murals by James Daugherty, entitled The Spirit of Pageantry—Africa, The Spirit of Drama—Europe, The Spirit of Cinema—America, and The Spirit of Fantasy—Asia. The theater was converted for the exhibition of Cinerama in 1967, but, due to financial trouble, closed in early February 1969, along with the rest of the Playhouse Square theaters.

The cover of the February 27, 1970 issue of Life was a two-page pull-out featuring The Spirit of Cinema America mural, which inspired the creation of the Playhouse Square Association. Two years later in 1972, and again in 1977, both the State and Ohio Theatres were threatened with razing in order to build a parking lot, but they were saved through public outcry.

In 1973, the newly formed Playhouse Square Foundation obtained a long-term lease for the Palace, State, and Ohio Theatres, and by 1977, the Loew’s Building was purchased by Cuyahoga County. Also in 1973, the musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened in the State Theatre’s lobby. The revue was expected to run for three weeks but instead played for two years, making it the “longest-running show in Cleveland history”. In 1978, the State was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of Playhouse Square.

Restoration of the theater began in 1979 and was completed in the summer of 1984, after the addition of a $7 million stagehouse. The State Theatre reopened on June 4 of that year, becoming the home of the Cleveland Ballet and Cleveland Opera. With the restoration, seating capacity was reduced to the present 3,193 (1,743 on the orchestra floor including 100 in the orchestra pit, 140 in the loge level, 622 in the mezzanine level, and 578 in the balcony as well as 110 in 12 boxes).



The State Theater

1519 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 771-4444


Intolerance movie set, 1916

The Grand Lobby of the State Theater as it appeared in the 1920s

Opening night at the Lou Bard Playhouse, 1923

Playhouse Square

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