The Historic State Theatre in Bay City has played host to several forms of entertainment since it first opened it's doors in 1908 as the Bijou Vaudeville Theatre. As the original name implies, vaudeville was the chief form of theatre offered, along with burlesque.
Films were first shown here in the 1920s and the name was changed to the Orpheum. In the 1930s the building was renamed The Bay and transformed to resemble a Mayan temple by C. Howard Crane; the same architect behind the Fox Theatres of Detroit, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri. The structure received a new marquee in the late 1950s and was given a new name, The State Theatre.
Several phases of historic restoration began in 2000 with paint recovery, seat and carpet replacement and many other renovations taking the building back to the Mayan design of the 1930s. In 2008 the State premiered a new Marquee with LED lighting and became the first single-screen theater in Michigan to enlist a digital projection system.
The screen has been lit by film since those of the silent era were accompanied by organ and piano. A carbon arc projector cast the Tarzan films of the 1950s, while features such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" were projected with a Xenon bulb. The tradition continues here-albeit in the digital realm.
The State Theatre's stage has entertained since the days of Vaudeville. More recently, acts such as Three Men & a Tenor, the comedian Gallagher and film star Jeff Daniels have joined the ranks of performers to regale audiences here for over a hundred years.