History & Mission Statement
The Martha Ellen Auditorium was built in 1916 by Colonel William Shelton and was named after his daughter, Martha Ellen. It was built before radio and television, so the auditorium was used for concerts, operas, vaudeville performances and plays such as “The Shepard of the Hills.” The Martha Ellen Auditorium was also known as “Academy of Music” in Central City.
In 1928, the theater was purchased by Fred and Mary Ratcliff, who renamed the auditorium the State Theater. Keith Blodgett purchased the State Theater from Don Campbell in 1966. In 1988 the theater was listed on the National Register of Historic Places under the name of the Martha Ellen Auditorium in order to preserve its history.
In 2012, the owners decided to close because it was too costly to change from film to digital projection. A group of individuals came together to save the theater in hopes of reopening it in 2015. It was then that the State Theater Foundation was created with a board of directors and a business plan to reopen the theater. On August 6, 2015 the Blodgett family donated the deed to the State Theater Foundation.
Since then the State Theater Foundation along with donors purchased a new projector. With donations from the community and Go Big Give, the State Theater Foundation replaced the marquee, updated the furnace and the A/C unit, finished the brickwork, installed new carpet and aisle lights, replaced sconces and built new ADA restrooms. Currently, we are in the process of redesigning the lobby and finishing the ticket booth. In December, we updated the entrance to all glass and this spring the sidewalk will be replaced to make easier access for all theater customers.
Our mission is to enrich, entertain and educate our community by providing exceptional cinematic arts in a unique, intimate setting, while preserving the last historic movie theater in Central City.
Donations can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 15
Central City, NE 68826
our email – firstname.lastname@example.org