State Theater and Community Center reopens in Eau Claire

The facility, which had been closed since 2018, held a grand re-opening on October 11

Will Seward

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The State Theater and Community Center held its grand re-opening on October 11.

Over a year ago, the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center State Theater — which was opened in 1926 — closed its doors in August of 2018, according to the website which no longer represents the facility.

Joe Luginbill, the founder and CEO of the Luginbill Children’s Foundation, is an alumnus of UW-Eau Claire with degrees in sociology and family studies. Through his foundation, he has renovated and reopened The State Theater and Community Center.

Luginbill said they have spent upwards of five figures on renovating the facility, according to Shannon Satterlee with WQOW news.

“When we reopened the building, I knew that I wanted it to be called The State Theater and Community Center,” Luginbill said in an interview with WQOW, “to really emphasize that (it) isn’t just serving as a venue space for events — that’s one part of it — but it also will be a hub for nonprofit activity.”

Over 400 people attended the grand re-opening, according to The State Theater and Community Center page on Facebook.

There is currently only one upcoming event on the Facebook page for The State Theater and Community Center.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil is hosted by both the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ-Plus and The State Theater and Community Center. The vigil will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Nov. 20.

The event will feature Zoe Roberts, who is a transgender activist, and Laura Benjamin, who is part of the City Council.

“We will be hosting our Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil in order to honor and recognize those transgender individuals who lost their lives to senseless acts of hate,” the Chippewa Valley LGBTQ-Plus Facebook page said. ”These humans so bravely decided to live their authentic self and paid the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.”

At the event, they will be saying the names of those who have lost their lives in such circumstances with a host of resource tables available to the guests who are attending.

The commitment of the Luginbill Children’s Foundation is to ensure that every child in the Chippewa Valley grows up in a safe, kind and loving community, according to their website.

“A place as special as this that has memories (so valuable) for so many of us really needs to be kept alive in some way,” Luginbill says to WQOW, “so I’m really excited that it not only was a really special part of my childhood, but now it’s a special part of my adulthood, too, and I’m excited for the rest of the community to feel that.”

The Luginbill Children’s Foundation operates over 13 programs and is currently ranked inside the top three favorite family-focused nonprofit groups in the Chippewa Valley, according to Chippewa Valley Family.

All of their programs are aimed at improving the well-being of children. These programs range from the prevention and help of homelessness for youth exiting the foster-care system, to free cooking classes during the summer for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, to ensuring access to healthier foods.

The programs are The Smile House, Cooking Up Some Fun and Market Match, respectively.

The Luginbill Children’s Foundation is ranked second in the list, preceded by the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley and is followed by the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire.

Seward can be reached at [email protected].