Auburn State Theatre


Auburn State Theatre

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Our History

The William Powell movie "Rendezvous" was released in 1935

The William Powell movie "Rendezvous" was released in 1935.

On December 26, 1930, a new and exciting venture was introduced in the City of Auburn. At the State Theatre's grand opening, attendees marveled at the beautiful interior, elaborate furnishings and marvelous sound projection. The good wishes of many of the businesses and service clubs were noted by the lovely flower arrangements that graced the lobby of the theatre. The building had 1,325 seats. With the opening performance of the film "Sunny" featuring Marilyn Miller, the movie theater served the Auburn community for many years.

The building was extensively remodeled in 1972, the balcony removed, the front part of the auditorium divided into two theatres and the rear of the auditorium converted to a mall.

Evon Basque at the concession stand, circa 1940

Evon Basque stands behind the concession stand that greeted customers as they entered the theater, circa 1940.

During the late 1990s, Doris Viera and Esther Stanton, long-time boosters of the City of Auburn, solicited backing from the Auburn community to create a performing arts center in the historic State Theatre in Downtown Auburn. It provided a unique opportunity to restore a historical landmark, rejuvenate the downtown area and provide a permanent home for the Auburn Symphony.

Strong Interest In Preserving Our Heritage

The Performing Arts Committee consisting of Doris Viera, Esther Stanton (now deceased), Monroe DeJarnette and William Lipschultz was granted charter committee status by the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce in 2001 and was granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service on August 2, 2001. This committee appointed the first permanent Board of Trustees, consisting of twenty interested community members, most with direct connections to the arts. The Board elected William Lipschultz as its President. The Performing Arts Committee (PAC) collaborated with the City of Auburn on a Feasibility Study to determine if the State could support a performing arts program.

State Theatre Property Purchased in March, 2006

The Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center (APPAC) Board of Directors initiated an appraisal of the building and negotiated an agreement with the Lardner family, former owners of the property. A loan from our local investor group enabled purchase.

The State Theatre location was chosen because it is:

Project Auburn Provides a New Building Façade in May, 2008

Project Auburn, under the leadership of Nick Willick, and assisted by the Auburn Rotary Club, and Jeff Henry of the Placer County Contractors Association, provided a beautiful new façade replicating the façade that existed in 1937 when the building was "modernized".

Architect Richard Wyatt did the research and plans for the project.

New Marquee and Tower Sign Installed in June, 2008

A grant from the Auburn Urban Development Authority (City of Auburn), a gift from Viola Wrigley, and funds provided by the APPAC Board enabled installation of a 1937 era marquee and sign.

Trial Performing Arts Venue Opened April, 2009

With the assistance of community volunteers, one of two small movie theaters, created from the State Theatre's original orchestra section, was made into a 130 seat performing arts venue and included a new thrust stage. This venue was operated on a trial basis to gauge community support for a performing arts center in Auburn. Music events, plays, and films were featured. 

Re-roofing and Tear Down the Wall, 2012-2013

In 2012 a new $200,000 roof was installed and brought an end to persistent and damaging leaks caused by a 30 year old roof. The success of the 130 seat “trial” theater was evidence of strong community support for an expansion, and the “Tear Down The Wall” project (referring to the wall that divided the old orchestra section into two small theaters) was born.  A fundraising campaign titled, “Tear Down the Wall and Bring Up the Arts”, was launched in October 2013 and $520,000 was raised. Theater Expansion ran from May to October 2014.

Theater Expansion Project, May to October 2014

On May 6, 2014 the dividing wall (see preceding section) was torn down thus launching the expansion project. During demolition the original theater ceiling was discovered. It had been covered in the 1970s by a lower artificial ceiling. While not originally part of the expansion plans, the ceiling's architectural features were considered of value and ceiling restoration became part of the project. In the 1970s remodel, the curving side walls and four columns were eliminated and had to be recreated. Upwards of 30 heating and air conditioning vent openings in the floor had to be sealed off to make way for a new HVAC system in the ceiling.

A large part of the original stage had to be reconstructed. The space below the stage was reconfigured and rebuilt for use as a green room. Extensive electrical work was done throughout the building. Modern sound and lighting systems and red velvet stage curtains were installed. Reclining, red velvet seats from Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles were put into place. The architect was Paul Breckenridge, AIA, of Auburn. The project contractor was Paul Dickson of Auburn along with Scott Olney, also of Auburn. The construction coordinator was APPAC Board Member, Kevin Odell. Technical, sound and lighting advisor was Tony Broadbent of Auburn.

Restored Theater Opens October 19, 2014

On October 19, 2014, before a sold out house, the 340 seat, beautifully restored Art Deco performing arts center was christened and featured a magic show by Alex Ramon. With excellent visibility from all seats, the State Theatre Performing Arts Center is considered one of the finest medium sized performance venues in Northern California

Organization Name Change

In January, 2019, the name was officially changed from Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center (APPAC) to Auburn State Theatre.