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January 19, 2012 05:55 PM

State Theatre Shows Off New Lobby

Sioux Falls, SD

The State Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls has reached another milestone in its cinematic comeback.

Workers have nearly finished restoring the historic building's lobby, and now they're getting ready to move onto the auditorium. This final phase is getting strong financial backing from the community.

A new-look lobby is just the ticket for the historic State Theatre. The ceiling is still awaiting a fresh coat of paint and more light fixtures, but the renovations that are in place capture the lobby's luster of years past.

"When I walked in here today, it really feels like I'm walking into the theater that I remember as a child," Fundraising Co-Chair Joe Henkin said.

To onetime State Theatre-goers like Henkin, the trip down memory lane passes through the renovated lobby and into the work-in-progress that is the auditorium. Restoration crews will have to flatten-out a section of the sloping floor to build restrooms as well as a concession area.

Then, the rest of the auditorium will be redone to its original glory when vaudeville and silent movies entertained Sioux Falls audiences. But the work all hinges upon private donations. Efforts to restore the State Theatre have been ongoing for years. But organizers hope that the progress people see now will help them push their fundraising goals over the top.

"For those people who have been sitting back and waiting to see, is this really going to happen, because this idea's been kicked around for quite a while. This shows progress, it shows excitement, it shows momentum," Henkin said.

Organizers are more than halfway toward their goal of raising $2.4 million to fix up up the auditorium. They're hoping the first movie plays in the completely-renovated State Theatre next year. They say the sooner the pledges come in, the sooner the curtain rises.

A $200,000 federal grant through a program called "Save America's Treasures" helped pay for the renovations to the State Theatre's lobby.

If you'd like to donate to the State Theatre's restoration, click here.
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