Designed by George Coles and opened in 1937, the Gaumont State was one of the biggest auditoria in Europe, with seating for 4,004 people. The name State is said to come from the huge 120 feet (37 m) tower, inspired by the Empire State Building in New York City. The exterior of the cinema is designed in an Art Deco Italian Renaissance style, covered in cream ceramic tiles. The tower, designed in the style of a 1930s New York skyscraper, can be seen for miles around, and bears the name "STATE" in large red neon letters. The interior was designed in the opulent style of cinemas of the day, and includes a Wurlitzer organ which is today one of the largest fully functioning Wurlitzer organs in Britain. It is also one of the few cinema organs remaining in their original locations. Entertainers such as Gracie Fields, Larry Adler and George Formby performed at the official opening broadcast live on BBC Radio on December 20, 1937. Since then, the Gaumont State has been one of the most popular music venues in London and hosted a number of historic performances. From the late 1980s until 2007 the building was run as a bingo hall by Mecca Bingo. In 2007 the bingo was closed, and the building and surrounding site were put up for sale. A campaign to Save the Kilburn State from unsympathetic property developers, and restore it as a cultural centre, was started in the same year by local residents. The building was eventually acquired by Brixton-based Ruach Ministries, led by Bishop John Anthony Francis and Co-Pastor Penny Francis. The building was bought 70 years to the exact day that The Gaumont State was first opened on 20 December 1937.
^Juliette Soester, Willesden Local History Society (September 2000). "The Gaumont State Cinema". Brent Heritage (note that the title of this reference is incorrect, the organ is not the largest Wurlitzer in Britain). Retrieved 2007-11-10.