It’s something known by many, but not all, Galionites — that there are two surviving movie theatres in Uptowne Galion.

The Galion Theatre is, of course, a well known landmark on Harding Way West, its unique porcelain enameled facade is one of the best known in Ohio. Almost 20 years earlier, however, another theatre arrived, some elements of which continue to exist 93 years later.

The State Theatre opened on May 1, 1930 at 126 Harding Way East with the movie “Hello Sister” starring Olive Borden, a former silent film star known for her jet black hair and stunning beauty. Accompanying the film were news, comedies, and what was referred to as “novelties.” Admission for that first film was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children.

Two men were primarily responsible for the new theater. W.E. Wisterman, a member of Galion’s first family of dry goods merchants (what would be called later “department stores”) provided the financial backing, and A.J. Paul was the manager. Paul had run a 90 seat theatre on South Market Street, and later the Grand and Royal Theatres.

The new $100,000 State Theatre sat 800 patrons. Architects were the well-known theatre designer Peter Hulsken and Galion architect Harlan Jones, who is perhaps best remembered for his transformation of the Crawford County Courthouse in the first decade of the 20th century.

The interior was spectacular. The decoration was of Spanish art design, including urns and statues. The ceiling depicted a night open air scene complete with electric stars and moving clouds.

The Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine, another commission of Hulsken, has a similar ceiling which still functions (see image below). Other theatres were designed by him in Lima, Kenton, Wooster, and Sandusky, as well as in New York and Virginia.

Newspaper coverage of the theatre opening was effusive in its praise:  ““Evidence of faith in Galion’s progressive future is further exemplified by the erection of one of the most modern theatres in this vicinity.”

The theatre had a relatively short run, closing shortly after the new Galion Theatre opened. It was sold to furniture dealer Art Nicholls who put his operation and retail store in the building, turning the original auditorium into a two story configuration. Later the space housed several retail businesses and professional offices.

Still, the places where the original marquee hung from the facade are still clearly visible, and the recessed tiled theatre entry is still in place and is the main entrance to the Galion Family Health Center. On the inside, a trip to the second floor allows visitors to see the original ceiling with recessed lighting wells, largely intact. The side hallway, which was later used for the State Theatre Office Mall, still leads to the theatre’s bathrooms and to the back of the original stage area.

The State Theatre marquee is on the left in the photo below.

Image: 1831Galion