Road Trips

The State Theater in Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The State Theater has been a mainstay in Logansport, a northern Indiana town of about 18,000 residents, since 1940. In its heyday it was but one of several downtown theaters, but today it is the last that remains. And it looks mighty good.

State Theater, Logansport

It could easily have ended badly for the State. Several years ago the theater changed hands and became a live-music venue called the Shindig. The marquee’s STATE letters came down. Then that owner ran aground in his business. The theater’s future was uncertain until Kevin Burkett, who grew up in Logansport and worked as an editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, returned home to buy this theater.

Given that this theater is on the Michigan Road Historic Byway, I’ve driven past it many times and have made it my camera’s subject over and over. Here’s a 2009 photo I made while the marquee was lit.

State Theater, Logansport

Burkett has since become editor of the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. He since established a nonprofit organization, The State Theater Preservation Society, to own the theater and carry on the restoration work. But he remains heavily involved. Among the first things he did: restore the STATE letters to the marquee. They are reproductions, but he still has the originals.

While much work remains in the restoration, cosmetically the building appears to be in good condition. Here’s the box office.

State Theater, Logansport

Inside, the concession stand features a popcorn popper that dates to about 1948.

State Theater, Logansport

I got a tour thanks to the Historic Michigan Road Association having a board meeting here. Burkett was kind not only to project our logo onto the screen, but to offer free popcorn and soda. I didn’t properly thank him for the Diet Pepsi he gave me.

State Theater, Logansport

The theater’s fixtures really captured my attention. According to Burkett, when the building was made into a theater, craftsmen fabricated all of the lighting on the spot. They are all unique to this theater.

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The lit wayfinding signs were presumably also fashioned on the premises. They all offer an Art Deco touch, but in some cases the original lettered glass was lost. Some of the replacements are crude. Here’s hoping that during restoration new ones can be made that match the originals.

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

State Theater, Logansport

The State’s first-run-film days remain in its past. Today, the venue continues to host concerts, and now also live theater. Local theater groups and other arts-related non-profits are invited to use the theater for free. That’s a mighty good deal for Logansport!

Here’s one last nighttime photo of the marquee, which I made in 2011.

State Theater, Logansport

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19 thoughts on “The State Theater in Logansport

  1. Heide says:

    In a way I’m glad the previous owner didn’t have deep enough pockets to “renovate” the theater and get rid of all those wonderful little architectural details. It’s like a little time capsule! And the new owner sounds like a wonderful person too. Great post, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is delightful to see all those little details intact. This isn’t a grand big-city theater but I feel sure it is typical of what could be found in a small town in the 40s. And so I’m glad these details remain.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nancy Stewart says:

    I really like the Art Deco details. The old theater in Plymouth has been refurbished and recently reopened, and someone has been working on the old Times Theater in Rochester where I went when I was a kid.

    Like

  3. From back in the days when going to see a movie was an event. I came from a very small town in Upstate New York. For its size we had several grand theaters all with Art Deco type details like The State. Thanks for sharing these.

    Like

  4. Dan Cluley says:

    I would guess that a small town theater like this is easier to restore, but harder to keep financially viable.

    I’m familiar with Rev Peyton’s band from the Blues show on a local radio station. As I think about it, they may be Indianapolis based.

    Like

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