After a decade of renovation efforts, the State Theatre’s marquee shines brightly once again in downtown Culpeper!
The inaugural season kicked off in May 2013 with a celebration of music, film, dance, drama, and children’s programming. From Bruce Hornsby and Lyle Lovett to local chorales and the Crossroads Youth Orchestra, the theatre strives to bring exciting artists to the region while also sharing the stage with the talent in our own backyard.
In partnership with the Library of Congress, the State Theatre presents both former blockbuster films and rarities from the Packard Campus archives, such as the recently curated Marx Brothers Film Festival.
There’s not a bad seat in the house! With amazing acoustics and unobstructed views, the State Theatre offers live performances, from drama to comedy, from a one-man show to a large ensemble cast.
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The State Theatre was built by State Senator Benjamin Pitts in 1938 as a vaudeville movie house, and was originally named the Pitts Theatre. The building featured an art deco façade, as was the prevalent style for movie houses in that era, with a modest interior. Of the thirty theatres that Senator Pitts built in the state of Virginia, there are only two that are still in use as a movie theatre—the State Theatre of Culpeper and The Royal located in Front Royal, VA. The Pitts family leased the theatre to Regal Cinemas in 1973, and it was renamed The State Theatre. For nearly fifty-five years the theatre served as Culpeper’s primary movie theatre.
The Theatre closed in 1993 when it was sold to The Finders, a group led by Culpeper native Marion Pettie. Under ownership of The Finders, the theatre was not open to the public. During those years no significant repairs or improvements were made to the building. After the death of Mr. Pettie, the theater was sold to Mr. Greg Yates. Mr. Yates purchased the 11,000 square foot building in 2004 in an effort to save the State Theatre from demolition or renovation into office/retail space. In February of 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Yates donated the property to the State Theatre Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
In May of 2008, the State Theatre was placed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. In December 2012, the Theatre celebrated the Grand Illumination of the restored marquee. The theatre reopened its doors in May 2013—75 years after it was built.