The Traverse City State Theatre actually began as the Lyric Theatre just over 100 years ago in 1916. The site has since seen two debilitating fires, the birth of a film festival, celebrities like Madonna, Jane Fonda and Susan Sarandon and, of course, hundreds of movies.


Local entrepreneur Julius Steinberg opened the Lyric Theatre on July 4, 1916. 


The theatre burned down in January 1923. It was renovated over the next year and reopened in December 1923.


Butterfield Theatres took over management. They kept on manager Conrad Foster who continued to work at the Lyric until his death in 1940.


The Lyric showed its first “talkie”—a film called Lucky Boy.


Once again, the theater burned down (January 3, 1948) and had to be renovated. This time it reopened as the State Theatre in June 1949.


Management company GKC turned the single screen cinema into a twin screen so they could show more than one film simultaneously. 


After 80 years, the State Theatre closed its doors. Over the next several years, the community deliberated what would be the use for the historic site.

Photo by David Weidner


The State Theatre Group and Interlochen Center for the Arts announced a complete renovation. 


The rotary charities donated the theater to the Traverse City Film Festival. That November, it reopened with a gala premiere of the film The Kite Runner. 


The State Theatre is an integral centerpiece to both Traverse City and the Traverse City Film Festival.

Historical photos provided by the Traverse Area District Libary, Current photos of The State by Traverse City photographer Dave Weidner. 

Photo(s) by Traverse Area District Library