Then and Now...Old St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

Staff Writer

The State Cinema

In 1936, George Mitchell, past manager of the Imperial theater, built a new and grand theater in downtown Newton at the cost of $7,800.
The State Cinema was of art-deco style with a striking frontage, two stories high, with black glass and tan stucco. No other theater in the city had a large attractive lighted vertical marquee.
The interior was complemented with deep carpeting and an ornate stairway to the balcony with iron French railing.
The theater, like many other theaters at this time, was segregated. There was a entry on the left of the ticket office where people of color would walk up a dark stairway to a separated balcony.
The theater has seen its share of fires over the years. This first fire happened in the late 30’s from an overhead projector. The second fire happened in 1941 from a gasoline spill at the Hewitt Motor Company.
But the biggest fire came on April 6, 1943. It was believed to have started in the boiler room.With this fire, the theater lost its art-deco appearance.
Damage was estimated at $31,000.
The State Theater has had many neighboring businesses over the years such as a barber shop, Hewitt Motor Company and Neon by Ernie.
In 1985, theater manager Ernie McSwain would install central heat and cooling. He would also change the balcony to a second screen and completely change the downstairs into two small lobbies in the mid-90’s.
In 2015, The State got a new owner. Lisa McCoy took over and added digital projectors to enhance the movie-going experience.There were also upgrades made to the concession area and restrooms.