On March 18th, the State Theatre in Ann Arbor turns 75, having publicly opened on that date in 1942. The theater was one of C. Howard Crane’s many iconic movie palace masterpieces, and this year it has an upcoming renovation to look forward to. The renovation is being undertaken by the Michigan Theater Foundation, which owns/operates the State. This renovation promises to restore the theatre’s former Art Deco glory, while also expanding and enhancing its offerings to the community.
The renovation project will include:
- Increasing the number of screening rooms from two to four, offering twice the number film selections to patrons;
- Installation of an elevator, making the screening rooms accessible to for all who wish to see a film;
- More comfortable seating with increased leg room, properly aligned to the screen;
- New ADA features for mobility-impaired, hearing-impaired and visually-impaired patrons;
- Updated movie projection and sound systems, offering a state-of-the art movie-going experience;
- Restoring and refreshing C. Howard Crane’s beautiful Art Deco design of the façade, classic marquee, entrance, lobby, and restrooms.
These updates and improvements will help to meet the Michigan Theater Foundation’s goal of creating one of the best art house cinemas in the country. “A renovated State Theatre will become a magnet for filmgoers throughout the region and solidify Ann Arbor’s national reputation as a home for world-class art house cinema,” said Russ Collins, Executive Director of the Michigan Theater Foundation.
When the State originally opened in 1942, they had seating for 2,000 people, on two floors. The first floor of the theater is now retail space, home to Urban Outfitters and other businesses, and that change occurred in the 1980s. The second floor balcony was changed over to a 2-screen cinema. The Michigan Theater Foundation purchased the theater in 2014, when it was going to be converted into office space, in order to preserve the theater and important pice of Ann Arbor’s history.
The majority of the State Theatre’s restoration and renovation expenses will be funded by support from individual donors – large and small. Initial financial support for the renovation from individuals, foundations and businesses has been very strong, led by several major pacesetting gifts. The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority recently pledged financial support for the restoration of the theatre’s iconic marquee and façade. Fundraising will continue quietly, until a public campaign kicks off later this summer.
Questions on the State Theatre renovation and fundraising are being handled by Lee Berry, Chief Development Office of the Michigan Theater Foundation, at email@example.com or 734-668-8397, x22.