University of Michigan may make use of the Capitol Theatre

posted by steelbeard1 on February 10, 2009 at 7:45 am

FLINT, MI — The University of Michigan-Flint is exploring utilizing the long closed Capitol Theatre for its music program. It may cost up to $40 million to renovate the theater and make it a community asset.

The C.S. Mott Foundation is paying for a $50,000 feasibility study. Additional details can be found in the Flint Journal

On a side note, the theater’s owner George Farah died Sunday, February 1 at age 73. The Flint Journal obit is here.

Theaters in this post

Comments (48)

Patsy
Patsy on February 10, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Glad to read this UM news in regards to the Capitol Theatre!

Patsy
Patsy on February 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm

And it’s an Eberson/atmospheric theatre! A well-worth project!

MPol
MPol on February 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Here’s hoping that UM puts the Capitol Theatre to good use!!

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 10, 2009 at 9:15 pm

It seems like quite a few of these theaters are being saved by colleges and universities. I can think of the Strand in Delaware OH, the Hamilton in Hamilton NY which was purchased by Colgate. I know there are others. Then we need to hope and pray that the new owners can respect the history and design of the theater while using it for today’s needs.

Patsy
Patsy on February 11, 2009 at 6:49 am

SchineHistorian: Interesting to read that the Hamilton Theatre in Hamilton NY was purchased by Colgate. I have a neighbor who graduated from that college so will have to ask him about it.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 11, 2009 at 7:04 am

Yes, and one of the graduating classes donated the money for a new marquee as their reunion gift.

Patsy
Patsy on February 11, 2009 at 7:10 am

SchineHistorian: That’s wonderful….read that bit of information over on the Hamilton Theatre link. I have now sent an email to my neighbor with a marquee photo of the theatre provided on CT.

quasimodo
quasimodo on February 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Yeah, it’s an Eberson atmospheric – one of the few remaining in Michigan. Yeah, it’s been shuttered and underutilized for many years. Yeah, it’d be great to see the twinkling stars hover over a packed house for movies and shows.

But anyone that would suggest that it is well-worth (my apologies, Patsy) a $40 million restoration is living in a different plane of existence. If the auditorium space is 20,000 square feet, this translates to $2,000 per square foot – more than ten times the cost of new construction! $50,000 for a feasibility study? Jeezus, I’m in the wrong business…

Patsy
Patsy on February 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

$40 million seemed high to me, too! Though I do hope that through State grants, etc., UM can restore this theatre because…it is what it is…an Eberson/atmospheric and as you say “one of the few remaining in Michigan”.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on February 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I vote for a new construction as long as John Eberson can be the lead architect. That seems like a reasonable compromise, hunh?
: D

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on February 12, 2009 at 7:14 am

“more than ten times the cost of new construction!” new construction for what? It is an ornate 1900 seat theater and even non-ornate, they don’t get built cheaply.

Patsy
Patsy on February 12, 2009 at 8:24 am

To have an original Eberson/atmospheric still standing in the midst of Flint is more than most communities have in their downtown areas so I vote to have this theatre restored somehow, someway! It can be done with a few good supporters and organizers. And having UM involved is an asset for the good of the cause. We’re not in the age of “urban renewal” anymore, thank goodness, so a renovation focus needs to be on this theatre!

JohnMLauter
JohnMLauter on February 12, 2009 at 9:59 pm

State grants? what are those and what decade you you live in? Michigan is about as broke a state as you could design. The whole anti-American car trend combined with the inability of those who do like our vehicles to get financing has fixed our economy for a while. UM could pull it off, they have a very wealthy, powerful group of alums who give generously.
Flint is also a frogotten town, GM closed up most everything there, and it has been in bad shape since the 1980s and not improving. The upside of all of this (like Detroit) is that no one is in a hurry to demolish theatres or other old buildings, the land underneath is not overly valuable and no one wants to build much of anything new, so places like the Capitol have been spared. I would like to see it, perhaps the Hollywood theatre (Detroit) Barton organ could go in there, there is a U-M connection.

steelbeard1
steelbeard1 on February 13, 2009 at 3:49 am

If UM could put another Barton organ in the Capitol, that would be a great move. The Capitol’s organ was donated to the Flint Institute of Music and moved there after Butterfield Theatres first closed the Capitol Theatre in 1976.

JohnMLauter
JohnMLauter on February 13, 2009 at 5:26 am

I am playing a concert on that Barton on May 16th.

William Dakota
William Dakota on June 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm

The theater was renovated around 1960. They took out the statues and other things that made the Capitol special. The front entrance was improved but the auditorium lacked the atmosphere it once had. I heard that previous leasers put in a bar? And Farah gave away the 35 mm movie projectors. How could they lease a theater without projectors? I was recently told, the owners wanted one million up front to lease it. It needs a new air-conditioning system, heating, and outside fire escape.If the roof has been leaking, then this is a mess to clean up. But, 40 million is way too much to get it operating. I worked for Butterfield, from being an usher, doorman, assistant manager, etc. Does the 40 million include all of the outer rental spaces and up stairs offices?

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