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 local businesses and service clubs were noted by the lovely flower arrangements that graced the lobby of the theatre. This grand “movie palace” opened with 1,325 seats.

The building was extensively remodeled in 1972, with part of the auditorium, lobby, and upstairs loges converted to a mall. In the mid-1980s, the balcony was removed and the remaining auditorium (the State Theatre's original orchestra section) divided into two theatres.

Evon Basque at the concession stand, circa 1940

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

In the 1990s, long-time Auburn boosters Doris Viera and Esther Stanton solicited backing from the community to create a performing arts center in the historic State Theatre. It provided a unique opportunity to restore a historical landmark and rejuvenate the downtown area.

Non-profit APPAC Purchases State Theatre Building

Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center (APPAC) Board of Directors negotiated an agreement with property owners, the Lardner family; a loan from a local investor group enabled purchase.

Project Auburn volunteers provided a beautiful new façade replicating the façade that existed in 1937 when the building was "modernized." A grant from the City of Auburn, a gift from “chewing gum heiress” Viola Wrigley, and funds provided by the APPAC Board enabled installation of a 1937-era neon-lit marquee and blade tower.

Trial Performing Arts Venue Opened April 2009

With the assistance of community volunteers, one of the two small theatres was made into a 130-seat performing arts venue and with a new stage. This venue was operated on a trial basis to gauge community support for a performing arts center in Auburn. Concerts, plays, and films were featured. 

Tear Down the Wall - 2014

The success of the “trial” theatre was evidence of strong community support for an expansion, and the “Tear Down The Wall” project (referring to the central wall dividing the two small theatres) began in May 2014.

During demolition the original theatre ceiling with distinctive architectural features was uncovered. Curving side walls and columns were restored and the original stage was reconstructed.

The space below the stage was rebuilt for use as a green room. Extensive electrical work was done throughout the building and a new HVAC system installed. Modern sound and lighting systems and red velvet stage curtains were installed. Reclining, red velvet seats from Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles were put into place.

On October 19, 2014, the 340-seat, beautifully restored Art Deco performing arts center opened with a sold-out performance by rising star magician Alex Ramon.

Auburn State Theatre Continues to Serve the Community

Since 2014, the renamed Auburn State Theatre (AST) has presented nearly 700 concerts, plays, movies, community events and lectures with more than 111,000 attendees. In addition to hosting community and school groups, AST has presented famous names such as Elvin Bishop, Jesse Colin Young, and Iris DeMent.

With excellent visibility from all seats, Auburn State Theatre is considered one of the finest medium-sized performance venues in Northern California.