The State Theatre was built in 1926 to showcase silent film and vaudeville performance. The majestic theatre dazzled the residents of Sioux Falls with its iconic marquee and sophisticated Beaux Arts-inspired design. This style of building became known nationally as the ‘movie palace’. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer of these palaces remain intact, leaving the few still standing quite valuable.

The State Theatre served Sioux Falls for decades and was successful during this time. Hosting vaudeville’s biggest acts and even a world premiere, but most importantly the theatre offered a setting that helped create many childhood and adolescent memories.

The State Theatre closed unceremoniously in 1991 due to the outward migration of residents and businesses to malls and suburbs and the decline of downtown. It slowly slid into disrepair.

A Timeline of the State Theatre


The Henry Carlson Company begins construction on the State Theatre


The State Theatre opens as the grandest theatre in Sioux Falls.

Built by M.L. Finkelstein and I.H. Ruben, the State’s sister theatre, the Fargo Theatre, opens 13 days later.


The silent movie house transitioned to talking pictures


The State Theatre’s marquee is augmented to accommodate more light bulbs and larger marquee.


On February 13 the Argus Leader announced that a long-awaited cinematic event was to occur. Gone with the Wind, was coming to the State Theatre.


People lined up around the block to get their tickets.


The present-day marquee replaces the original.



The State Theatre hosted its only major motion picture world premiere.

Filmed in western South Dakota, “The Last Hunt” starring Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Debra Paget, Lloyd Nolan and Russ Tamblyn.


The lobby and foyer are demolished, renovated and replaced with an art deco design and new concession area. The box office was moved inside and glass and polished granite was added to the façade.

Longtime manager Cliff Knoll starts his career at the State Theatre.


Dancers celebrate the musical movie classic “State Fair”.


The Mighty Wurlitzer was plucked from the State Theatre and brought to Big Lake, MN.


The State Theatre closes due to disrepair, disinterest in downtown and movie patrons’ migration to the mall multiplexes.


The State Theatre is purchased by the Sioux Falls Film Society for $200,000. Using marketing slogans like “Bring Back the Lady,” and “Frankly My Dear, You Should Give a Damn,” the Film Society is able to replace the leaking aging roof with a new rubberized roof which saves the theatre from extensive water damage.



The Sioux Falls State Theatre Company purchases the State from the Film Society.

The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ is returned to the State Theatre.


The State Theatre had been granted a new façade by the city’s façade easement program and work was under way to bring the front back to its 1926 glory.


The State Theatre is awarded the Chamber Appeals Campaign in 2011 for $1.25 million.


The State Theatre becomes a “Save America’s Treasures” designee by the Department of the Interior.


The State Theatre Chamber Appeals Campaign meets and surpasses its goal, raising $2.3 million.


The lobby, foyer, main level restrooms, basement renovations are completed.


Discovery work in the auditorium completed.


The State Theatre replaced the old billboard with a digital marquee. It was given to the State as a ‘Gift to the City’.


. . .

Sioux Falls State Theatre Board

John Swedeen, President

Jennifer Sherman, Vice President

Liz Wheeler, Secretary

Jennifer Warren, Treasurer

Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, Past President

Joe Batcheller

Bruce Eide

Debby Vander Woude

Patti Abdallah

Marcie Halberstadt

Dave Melemseter

The State Theatre needs donations of money, time and in-kind gifts.

 Please consider a one-time, monthly or quarterly gift to bring “The Last Jewel” of DTSF back to life.
If you have questions, call the main office at (605) 335-5757.

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