Sunday, January 29, 2012

Historic State Theatre

Constructed in 1924, the State Theatre is an outstanding example of Beaux-arts style architecture. At the time of its construction, the State Theatre's 6000 sq. ft. made it one of the largest banks in St. Petersburg. Its original use as the Alexander National Bank lasted only two years until Jacob Alexander died in December 1926.

During part of 1927, the building was occupied by the Gregory Electric Refrigeration Company but by 1928 sat vacant. The Fidelity Bank and Trust Company purchased the building in July 1929. The stock market crash in October of that same year was too much for the local economy and the Fidelity Bank, like most St. Petersburg banks, was forced to close. After Fidelity's liquidation in 1931, the building was used for a succession of small office tenants until 1949 when it was remodeled into the State Theatre.

Neel Reid was the architect who designed the original building and was also responsible locally for the Alexander Hotel. In 1949 another notable architect, Archie Parrish of St. Petersburg, remodeled the building. The facade of the State Theatre is a symmetrical composition of three bays.

The bays are defined by engaged pilasters expressed as a series of quoins above a projected water table base topped by an ionic capital with an attached swag. A projected cornice with a simple entablature tops the facade. Above this is a parapet divided into three corresponding bays again divided by projecting pilasters. Each of the three main bays contains a pair of ionic columns on a block base supporting a banded arch with an engaged keystone with an acanthus motif.

A stylized bas-relief eagle fills the space between the sides of the three arches and the engaged pilasters. The original fenestration was removed at the time of the 1949 remodeling when the openings at the side bays were filled, and a new contemporary projecting marquis was added at the central bay above the theater doors. A later renovation into a concert venue included the installation of glass blocks at the two side arches. -Wikipedia

Today the State Theatre is used for concert venues. It has room for a stage, 3 bars and 400 guests.

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