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State Theatre’s New Marquee Merges Old, New

State Theatre
Beth Warden

There’s a new look to The State Theatre on Phillips Avenue and it’s getting mixed reviews.

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The Daktronics manufactured digital sign has now replaced the the older billboard, as the State Theatre sets a goal to be the message board of Sioux Falls:

The addition of the new, high-resolution displays with web-based software was made possible by a financial gift from John and Holly Swedeen of Sioux Falls.
John Swedeen, who retired recently as the president of StarMark Cabinetry, took over earlier in 2016 as the president of the State Theatre Company Board of Directors. He wants the remotely controlled electronic boards to serve as a bulletin board for the community.

While visiting with several folks strolling down Phillips avenue on Sunday September 11, 2016, comments ranged from concerns that it takes away from the historic design of the theatre, to the upbeat response. “It’s growing on me.”  One suggestion was to merge the two styles according to Russ from Canton.  “Use an old fashioned font and graphics, rather than the stark black board with red text” Lynn, who was visiting Sioux Falls from Pheonix, thought the board took away from the historic look of the theatre, but thought the information on the sign could be helpful for visitors.

In addition to the visual changes, you’ll hear a change as well: the whirling of cooling fans that can be heard as you walk underneath.  On a quieter Sunday afternoon, I could hear the fans across the street.

Restoration has been completed in the foyer and bathrooms, leaving the auditorium, balcony and other rooms yet to be done.  The theatre board takes pride in the detail of restoration being authentic to the original. John Swedeen talks about the progress:

We’re going to do this job right, no matter how long it takes. We want to provide Sioux Falls with a first-class, multi-use facility that is accessible to everyone in the community and again will be a source of pride.

The State Theatre opened in 1926 as a vaudeville house and closed in 1991. No reopen date has been set.  The building deteriorated and was in danger of being demolished until it was structurally stabilized in recent years.

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