Securing Our Historic Theaters

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Echoing the time when the Michigan was saved, the State Theatre is a community icon to preserve

It is our mission, our responsibility and our duty to preserve these two community treasures.

In 2013, Ann Arbor’s iconic vista

was threatened as the State Theatre was nearly gutted and converted from theater space into office space. Dynamic leadership stepped in to initiate the process of saving Ann Arbor’s beloved community gem. A palpable sigh of relief could be heard in the community.

The State and Michigan Theaters have been the lynchpins of this welcoming streetscape for almost 75 years. Over this time, the State and Michigan have been the visual and activity anchors of the area.

With renewed community involvement and support invested in the State and Michigan Theaters, they will be even stronger entertainment centers for generations to come.

While the Michigan Theater has been meticulously restored to its original 1920s splendor, the State Theatre is a shadow of its glorious former self. Its beauty has been neglected and abused for decades. In the 1970s, its expansive balcony was adapted clumsily for screening movies. Since then, the building has been allowed to slowly decline, which is equally tragic because its pedigree is impressive and historic. In its heyday, the State Theatre was an Art Deco masterpiece.

The renovation of the State is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, compelled by the Michigan Theater’s mission to protect its successful multi-screen business model and expand its service to the community.

The screens at the State Theatre give the Michigan Theater a competitive advantage to attract the best available contemporary and classic films for our community. The State Theatre enhances the organization’s long-term financial sustainability and assures that the Michigan Theater’s large historic auditorium is available for excellent performing arts and community events.

First article about the planned State Theatre in 1940. Courtesy of Ann Arbor News. 

“Over 6 million people have enjoyed events at the Michigan Theater since its restoration in 1986. It is an economic driver and a beloved community gathering place. Restoration of  the State Theatre will add to the Michigan Theater’s impact on downtown vitality, street life, good places to eat and shop, and activities where young people want to go. I’m so proud. I hope you are too.”

  –Judy Dow Rumelhart
Honorary Co-Chair, The State & Michigan Project, and Emeritus  Board member

Rendering of one of the four updated theaters

Plan for the new four-theater layout

To enable the State Theatre to

better serve the community and recapture its Art Deco magic, the renovation project will:

• Install a full-sized elevator, with stops at each level of lobbies and theaters

• Realign theaters with comfortable seating and increased leg room

• Restore and refresh renowned architect C. Howard Crane’s beautiful Art Deco design of the façade, entrance, lobby and restrooms

• Add new ADA features for mobility-impaired, hearing-impaired and vision-impaired citizens

• Install new heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and safety systems

• Update movie projection and sound systems

Rendering of the restored C. Howard Crane designed Art Deco facade

Meanwhile, the Michigan Theater

has been well used by over 6 million visitors since its last renovation and now requires significant technical updates and operational improvements. Among its vital needs:

• New, more comfortable and historically appropriate seats

• Accessibility enhancements in the balcony

• Updated stage equipment

• New, efficient “green” stage lighting and architectural lighting

• Digital cinema improvements and integration

• Specialized, historic paint and plaster work to preserve the building and maintain the “glow”

“We saved the Michigan Theater, and it has  become a vital cultural resource and economic driver for Ann Arbor. Now we have the opportunity and obligation to finish the Michigan and to save the State Theatre, and to restore and preserve both Theaters for our children, grandchildren, and generations to come.”

  –Ambassador Ronald  N. Weiser
Honorary Co-Chair, The State & Michigan Project, and Emeritus Board member

Projects at the State and Michigan Theaters are made possible, in part, by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

Latest Updates

Follow along with the State & Michigan Project! Here you’ll find press, photos, plans, and more throughout the campaign.

Giving Tuesday Results

Together, we reached our Giving Tuesday goal with more than $37,000 raised! Factoring in the matching gifts of $35,000, you helped us generate over $70,000 toward a beautified, accessible State Theatre and dramatic improvements at the Michigan Theater! The initial...


Hear From Our Donors!

“It’s our church. It’s a community center, a place we attend at least once a week. You can leave spiritually uplifted if it’s a good movie.”

Connie Crump & Jay Simrod

Donors, State & Michigan Project

“The University of  Michigan is a proud partner with the Michigan Theater in bringing world-class cultural experiences to the people of our community. I deeply appreciate the Michigan Theater’s commitment  to inspiring the imaginations of area residents. Our collaborations have enhanced educational opportunities for our students, and I look forward to many years of partnership and success.”

  – Mark Schlissel
President, University of Michigan

Give to the State & Michigan Project

Get Involved

Want to know more about how you can be a part of the State & Michigan Project?


Lee Berry (734) 668-8397 ext. 22