Lyric/State Theatre, Traverse City, MI / photo by Kathy McLeister

State Theatre (formerly Lyric), Traverse City, MI

Lyric/State Theatre, Traverse City, MI / photo by Kathy McLeister

THS’s second to last stop of the day was the State Theatre in Traverse City, MI.  The theatre welcomed THS with free popcorn and sodas.  They also gave guided tours of every nook and cranny of the theatre and a presented a wonderful overview of the history of the building.

The Lyric/State Theatre in Traverse City opened in 1916.  On January 17, 1923, the Lyric was destroyed in a fire and subsequently reopened on December 20, 1923.   The theater was destroyed by fire once again on January 3, 1948. It was subsequently rebuilt and reopened on June, 30, 1949 with a new name, the State Theatre.

On September 10, 1978 the State Theatre was closed for remodeling and the new owners split the single theater into a twin with two small screens. The last movie shown in the 1948 single auditorium State Theatre was “The End” with Burt Reynolds. The theater was operated as a twin by GKC for several years before it closed again.

Several groups then kept the theater safe from weather and time while various plans were made for its reopening. In 1996, Barry Cole and the State Theatre Group purchased the theater from GKC and announced plans to convert the theater into a performing arts complex. Then, in 2003, the State Theatre Group and Interlochen Center for the Arts announced a partnership to renovate the theater. The building wound up in the hands of Rotary Charities, who generously donated the State Theatre to the Traverse City Film Festival in May of 2007.

Following a complete renovation, the Traverse City Film Festival officially re-opened the State Theatre on Saturday, November 17, 2007 with the northern Michigan premiere of “The Kite Runner.”

Lyric/State Theatre, Traverse City, MI / photo by Kathy McLeister


  1. Gary Parks

    This is a beautiful example of a theatre facade from the transitional years between Streamline Moderne and Mid Century Modern. The theatre was still part of the show during those years. The interior looks like a tasteful blending of vintage fixtures with the acoustical treatments required by today’s movie sound systems. Modern cinema designers should take a cue from this auditorium’s house lighting design. This shows how tastefully placed lights add flair to draped walls, and its wonderful to see the stage curtains up-lit in the traditional way. This has always created a sense that something magical is going to emerge from behind them. Thanks for the photos, Kathy, so I can “follow along” with you guys. By the way–are those fiber optic “stars” on the ceiling? Fun!

  2. Brian Strickland

    Can someone tell me what material the old facade red panels are made of. They were on the face of the building. Also, any history that you may have on the panels. Thank you

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