BENEFITING: STATE THEATER ARTS GUILD INC
HISTORIC OROVILLE STATE THEATRE and PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
“Miracle on Myers Project”
National Register #91001383
1489 Myers Street
Oroville, California 95965
This is a story of community, faith and courage. It is about a Theatre, but it much, much more than that. It is about a Miracle on Myers Street!
The State Theatre was designed by San Francisco architect Timothy Pflueger. It was one of the small local theaters owned and operated by the T&D chain throughout California, a number of which Pflueger designed for the company.
The State Theatre was Oroville's first Spanish Colonial Revival style building, one of only two high examples of the style in the city. Genuine examples of this architectural style are rare due to the attrition in favor of more modern construction during the twentieth century. One of the best places to find it is in rural settings where growth has been less aggressive and prolific. Such is the case of the Historic Oroville Theatre. Spanish Colonial Revival architecture is iconic in California’s history. It speaks to both the early Spanish influence in the state and its culture of a more casual life style.
The late 1920s were a period of prosperity in Oroville, reflected in a number of major building commissions. Butte County agriculture was in a period of expansion, particularly in citrus farming (hence the oranges on the Theatre's wall sign). The Western Pacific Railroad, serving Oroville, was making improvements to better serve this expansion, and newspapers regularly reported the number of carloads of local oranges being shipped to Eastern markets. Gold dredging was especially active in the area, and would continue to support Oroville's economy during the early years of the Great Depression, allowing a continuation of building activity into the early 1930s.
Over time, the City of Oroville has experienced a roller coaster of economic periods of strength and growth and also periods of struggle and challenge. The fate of the Theatre has been passenger to that ride of ups and downs. During a down turn, the Theatre was sold to United Artists (UA). UA modernized some aspects of it like the entrance, the lighting, the marquee and divided the auditorium into two movie theatres – with considerable loss of the interior detail and fixtures as well as the damage to some of the Theatre’s infrastructure. After all that, UA only held the Theatre for a short time and then sought to divest it without any restoration to the alterations.
The State Theatre Arts Guild, Inc. is an all-volunteer organization, made up of residents of Greater Oroville who love the Historic Oroville State Theatre and performing arts. The volunteers dedicate their time and effort for the betterment of performing arts culture and environment in Oroville and the preservation and restoration of the Theatre.
STAGE was formed in the early 1970’s and originally called the Oroville Community Center Committee. The original charter was to work with the City of Oroville to develop a performing arts center in downtown Oroville. STAGE incorporated in 1979 to meet the growing needs of the project. The Committee explored locations for the center in Oroville and on the Feather River levee. However, when United Artists announced its intent to divest the State Theatre in the mid-1980s, with encouragement from the committee, the City of Oroville committed to purchasing the State Theatre. Funds from the Community Center Committee were given to the City to assist the City in completing the purchase, the initial remodel and operation of the Theatre.
STAGE is a non-profit 5013.c corporation owned by the membership that consists primarily of the residents of the greater Oroville area. There are no residency requirements to be a member of STAGE. Current and previous membership rolls have included individuals as far away as San Rafael and Sacramento. After the acquisition, STAGE remained a community organization that saw its role as that of guardian of the Theatre. STAGE has worked with the City to secure a grant to restore the exterior façade and raised funds to acquire a Wurlitzer Theater Pipe Organ to replace the original Wurlitzer that was a part of the original Theatre design and ambiance.
Working with the City has been an uphill endeavor as the City has experienced oscillating periods of growth and retrenchment. During periods when the City has been able to provide full time management, the Theatre has flourished with a robust program, advertising and grant application/award. When full time management has lapsed due to budget constraints, the Theatre has been less vibrant. For thirty five years, STAGE has devoted itself to the Theatre and the community that believes in its value and significance. But at no time in the forty four years has STAGE assumed a comprehensive role in the management of the Theatre – until now.
Recently the City of Oroville announced that it will be unable to continue support for the Historic Oroville State Theatre and proposed a commercial company take-over. This did not pan out and other proposals were discussed – none of which included the likelihood that the Theatre would be able to thrive and lead the performing arts culture in Oroville. In fact, the proposals were alarming and were more likely to lead to its deterioration than to its success.
Consequently, STAGE was compelled and eager to step up to assume a much more active and interactive role with the Theatre. STAGE’S vision is to ensure the success of the Theatre, to bring it back to its purpose and potential as the Jewel of the Historic Downtown District and spark a revival of economic prosperity for the Theatre, the business community and the City of Oroville. STAGE has developed a Strategic Plan that will revolutionize its role and thereby propel the Theatre forward into the coming decades and into the future of Oroville, California.
STAGE has an average of 400 members and has a base annual income of approximately $10,000. But this alone will not be sufficient to cover operating costs, let alone the renovations and repairs the Theatre deserves and will require over the next five years of the STAGE strategic plan. On June 17, 2014, in a bold move, the City of Oroville turned over the operation and management of the Historic Oroville State Theatre to the State Theatre Arts Guild, Inc.
The overarching philosophy adopted by STAGE as the organization realigns its perspective, mission and approach as a professional organization is that enjoys the support and affection of the people of the City and surrounding communities; a landmark whose history symbolizes the most prosperous era for the City should not only be preserved and cherished it should be utilized to spark revitalization for its setting: the Historic Downtown District.
The time has come for the Oroville State Theatre to resume its role as the Jewel of the City and rekindle a robust economic recovery for the City of Oroville! STAGE believes and has demonstrated that the residents and businesses of the City and surrounding communities will step up to make this happen and the community will not rest until this vision has become a “miraculous” reality!
As STAGE and the community step up to take on this challenge, we need help financial help from individuals, businesses, community development foundations and from grants that recognize in this day and age, community performing art centers cannot be run as profit centers. That the heart and soul of a community cannot be expressed in dollars and cents – however, it does take dollars, a lot of dollars to make it work!
STAGE IS PLEASED AND PRIVILEDGED TO REQUEST ASSISTANCE on behalf of the citizens of greater Oroville, California and the Theater that is beloved and has always symbolized our city’s best. It is time for the Theatre to resume that role by becoming the Jewel in the setting of the historic downtown district, rekindling a robust economy and a renewed vision of the City of Gold. PLEASE GIVE AND GIVE FROM YOUR HEARTS TO MAKE THIS MIRACLE ON MYERS A REALITY!