In 1942, the president of the Kentucky Amusement Company, J.M. Hobbs, selected the T. J. Murphy Company to build the Historical State Theater for $100,000. When the State opened its doors, the first movie was “The Fleet’s In,” starring Dorothy Lamour and William Holden. Forty years later the theater closed in 1982 with the last movie showing “E.T.”
In the 1990s, the Elizabethtown community began extensive private fundraising to once again bring life to the State. After several years, the city of Elizabethtown purchased the building and funded a full renovation and restoration of the theater. The State reopened in April of 2009 as a public, non-profit organization with a 501(c) (3) status.
During the restoration, Rambush Art Company of New York was commissioned to decorate the theater. The State has been fully restored to reflect the original décor of 1942, including original patterned carpet, paint colors and even original seating. Artwork still exists of two Greek goddesses who hold the masks of comedy and tragedy. In 2011, the State won a national award for Historic Preservation that was presented to architect Jim Kienle. The theater is one of the few remaining examples of Art Deco architecture in Hardin County.
Today, the State is the cornerstone of the revitalization of downtown Elizabethtown. The State is now home to classic movie showings, concerts, live comedy shows, live theater productions, lectures and more. Along with the restoration and usage of the main theater, the State is also a full rental facility for the community.