The State Theatre was designed by prominent theater architect Thomas W. Lamb and constructed in 1921. One of the most ornate theaters in the region, it was intended primarily to show movies, although these regularly shared the stage with vaudeville acts. Today, the State Theatre stands at the heart of New Brunswick’s theater district. The building has undergone at least five major renovations but retains much of its original historic detail. For the last several decades, the 1833-seat State Theatre has been known as a state-of-the-art venue for live performance and has been credited with serving as an important component of New Brunswick’s revitalization efforts.
Principals and staff of Mills + Schnoering Architects (M+Sa) developed a Master Plan for exterior and interior improvements in the early 1990s. Following its completion, new loading docks and a backstage addition that provided storage and upgrades to the dressing rooms were constructed, and the ticket office was completely renovated to provide better access and service to patrons. The historic house and front facade were fully restored to their original grandeur and new service and hospitality areas were designed. In 2015, M+Sa completed a new Master Plan for the State Theatre, addressing all areas of patron and performer access, comfort, and safety, as well as performance capabilities.
In early 2019, M+Sa completed Design Development documents for a comprehensive, $26 million project. Building improvements will include significant upgrades to back-of-house spaces for performers and technical staff, stage, and stage house; additional accessible routes and seating in the auditorium; building-wide accessibility improvements; additional restroom facilities; renovated/expanded first and second floor lobbies; new flexible community room/ second-stage venue; and two additions flanking either side of the existing building.