The STATE THEATER, 1519 EUCLID AVE., opened on 5 Feb. 1921. Designed for Vaudeville and movie shows by architect Thos. Lamb, the State was the flagship theater of Marcus Loew's Ohio Theatres. It was built by the Fleishman Constr. Co. of New York at a cost of $2 million. Described as Italian Renaissance, the State actually combined Roman, Greek, and European Baroque designs. The original auditorium seated 3,400 and could be accessed from Euclid Ave. via the longest lobby in the world serving a single theater (320 feet). Four murals by Jas. Daugherty embellished the huge lobby: The Spirit of Pageantry—Africa, The Spirit of Drama—Europe, The Spirit of Cinema—America, and The Spirit of Fantasy—Asia.
Although the State was modified to show Cinerama in 1967, the continued decline of the downtown led to its closing in Feb. 1969. It seemed doomed to become a parking lot, until Life magazine featured the mural Spirit of Cinema—America in its 27 Feb. 1970 issue, sparking a movement to save all of the theaters (PALACE, State, OHIO, ALLEN) in PLAYHOUSE SQUARE.
The first attempt of the Playhouse Sq. Assn. to put theatrical life back into the theaters was a production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris in the State lobby. Opening on 18 Apr. 1973, it ran until 29 June 1975 to become the longest-running show in Cleveland history. With the assistance of the JR. LEAGUE and the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, the State was restored with 3,100 seats and a new $7 million stagehouse to become home to the CLEVELAND BALLET and CLEVELAND OPERA, reopening on 9 June 1984. The State Theater was renamed KeyBank State Theatre in 2017 in honor of a $10 million gift to the "Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for Playhouse Square" initiative.
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