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Kalamazoo State Theatre Earns Historic Honor, Looks Forward to Future

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KST Interior

Kalamazoo State Theatre (KST) is one of Kalamazoo’s oldest downtown landmarks and has been a fixture in our community since 1927. In December 2021, KST earned the honor of being added to the National Register of Historic Places. KzooConnect caught up with KST executive director Stephanie Hinman to learn more about this prestigious recognition and get a glimpse of what might be in store for the future.

Seating just over 1,500 people, and equal distance between Detroit and Chicago, KST has brought incredible musical talent, live performances, movies, and more to our community. After facing a possible permanent shutdown and demolition in 1985, the theatre was purchased and revived by its current ownership, The Hinman Company. Recognizing the importance to the vitality of downtown Kalamazoo, The Hinman group has worked to make the KST an accessible and attractive destination for a wide range of audiences and performers.

“When my father (Roger Hinman, CEO of The Hinman Company) first took ownership of KST, he understood that if people are going to live, work, and play in Kalamazoo, we need something for them to do,” Hinman explained. “He also believed in the importance the theatre brought as far as economic and cultural impact to our community.”

Diverse programming and relationships have been key factors to the KST’s long-term success, and something Hinman emphasized the theatre is focused on for the future.

“We work to review, update, and maintain our sustainable practices and procedures,” Hinman said. “Our mission is preserve our historic building by providing diverse programming that is relevant to the community.”

KST has recently partnered with Theatre Projects to conduct research on what types of shows, performances, and entertainment the region wants to see and will support. KST is collecting public input via an online survey through February 13, 2022.

“To meet our mission, we need to know what the community wants,” Hinman said. “Having feedback from the community of which acts they will support will help us develop a booking plan.”

Throughout the last two years, KST has worked to fill different genre buckets and create innovate ways to safely host live performances through COVID-19. This includes the State on the Street series, where musicians perform free live music from the iconic KST marquee, as well as KST’s participation in the Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership social district.

KST Exterior

Ever evolving but embracing its history, the KST’s significance was acknowledged this winter with its selection to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register serves as the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. All National Register properties must have significance in the history of their community, state, or the nation.

“Sharon Ferraro, Pam O’Connor, and Luis Pena helped spearhead gathering the information and necessary documents to make this recognition possible,” Hinman said. “Once it sinks in that there are over 90 years of memories in this space, so does the realization that it is a great responsibility and opportunity to do what we can to keep the legacy in motion.”

The future looks bright for KST, who is excited to announce that recent upgrades to the building include an air conditioning system and new carpeting. You can find the latest information on upcoming, shows, announcements, and news on the KST website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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