1303 Meridian Street, Anderson
A Sad State
In the early twentieth century, downtown Anderson flourished, fueled by a gas and automotive manufacturing boom. Meridian Street became a hub for downtown theaters; just one four-block stretch was home to 16 theaters over the years. Today, only two remain: the Paramount Theatre and the State Theatre, movie palaces built by the Publix Theater Corporation of Chicago in the early twentieth century. The Paramount remains a showplace hosting movies and live shows, but the State Theatre sits vacant and in need of a new use.
Opened in 1930 at the corner of 13th and Meridian Streets, the State Theatre featured an eclectic Spanish Baroque façade, with white and emerald-green glazed terra cotta. With seating for over 1,500 movie-goers, the interior incorporated state-of-the-art systems, including modern sound and projection technologies and an early form of geothermal heating and cooling
The theater closed in 2008, and a series of subsequent attempts to redevelop and reopen the property stalled. A pending lawsuit discouraged progress, alleging the City of Anderson contributed to water damage at the landmark in the 1990s by failing to shut off water to the building. The City purchased the theater from an out-of-state buyer in 2019 to resolve the legal issues, hoping the site can become part of downtown redevelopment efforts. As a significant local landmark in the heart of Anderson’s downtown, the State Theatre deserves a second act.
Saving threatened buildings takes teamwork. You can be a part of that team. Reach out to local leaders. Let them know these buildings are important to you. And support state and local preservation groups.