The State Theater will soon begin its third floor renovation project thanks to a grant from the Mary Chilton Daughters of the American Revolution Foundation.
The historic State Theater at 316 S. Phillips Avenue has been a downtown Sioux Falls staple since it opened in 1926, but closed in 1990.
Nearly three decades and several renovation attempts later, the State Theater reopened to the public in 2020 after a donation from T. Denny Sanford and the City of Sioux Falls helped renovate the main auditorium and from the lobby.
Now the State Theater will restore the third floor, which will feature event space.
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The Mary Chilton DAR recently awarded the $50,000 Dorothy Day Davenport Prize to the theater to help advance its restoration project.
Dorothy Day Davenport was a founding member of the local DAR chapter in 1915. Since 1987, the Mary Chilton DAR Foundation has awarded over 500 grants totaling over $3 million.
“Dorothy Day Davenport was a woman of great vision and loved her hometown of Sioux Falls,” Chapter Regent Judy Goetz said in a press release. “We are thrilled to be able to honor his legacy by supporting the State Theater as it continues to be restored.”
“The DAR has always been a very supportive organization here in Sioux Falls,” said Allison Weiland, executive director of the State Theater. “They have been so amazing to work with and they understand the importance of restoring these historic places. The funding to start up the third floor is a huge game changer for us.”
The third floor will include a micro-theater and event space
The 990 square foot space was once the theater manager’s apartment. Soon it will become a unique, multi-purpose rental area and micro-theater for private events, corporate meetings, etc., Weiland said.
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“It really is an amazing space, and most people don’t know that. We start with the basic renovations, but then we have so many ideas for the space,” she said.
The State Theater had an elevator installed in 2019 to prepare it for public access.
The grant will help fund basic renovations such as restoring the original terrazzo flooring, repairing the original tile ceiling, fixing electrical issues, and updating the heating and cooling systems.
The walls will eventually include black curtains to block out light and comfortable seating for 20-30 people, which can be easily rearranged to suit the needs of the event. Weiland said they would also like to install a bar and a mini-concession, as well as a bathroom.
“If people want to come see a parade, or if they want to eat after a movie to discuss something, or even if they just want to have a little gathering space downtown – which is what people are looking for – this will be a great place for them, and it will support the State Theater at the same time,” Weiland said.
It will take a bit more funding before it’s finished, Weiland said, and they don’t have a timeline for completion yet.
“But we have so much more to look forward to in the future. There is still a lot of work to do on our restoration project,” Weiland said.
The next stages of the project are to tackle the second floor, work on the balcony and offices, as well as the basement, which includes changing rooms and storage areas. Weiland also talked about adding improvements to the main stage.
“It’s so exciting that we can continue to do renovations and open the spaces to the public,” Weiland said.
People can learn more about the State Theater or see what movies are showing on the website.