Next to the Paramount Theatre on Congress Ave sits another theatre. The State Theatre is managed by a non-profit, Austin Theatre Alliance, which also manages the Paramount. In recent years, you couldn’t be blamed for completely missing the theatre from the street-scape vantage point, though countless photos and postcards highlight the giant “State” neon monument. In 2006 a broken water main ravaged the State Theatre. At the time, its next door neighbor, 721 Congress Ave was under development by Sinclair Black (who was also the designer of the theatre’s renovation in 1994-1995). The two buildings share a basement, and logic dictated that the State Theatre allow 721 Congress to get further along in its development plans.
Cut to November 2009 and 721 Congress Ave is still a shell of a building with little prospect for achieving Sinclair’s vision anytime within the next five years. What will happen with the State Theatre? We don’t know. The State Theatre has not reopened for performances, though its acting school never closed. There’s been no updates published about their renovations or plans going forward. Just as the Ritz Theatre on 6th Street (another mid-century movie house) has been given a new life with its tenant the Alamo Drafthouse, we hope the State Theatre’s best days are yet to come.