Capitan Theater

1001 Shaw Avenue,
Pasadena, TX 77506

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 13, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Linkrot repair: The February 4, 1950, Boxoffice page about the Capitan Theatre can now be found at this link.

dallasmovietheaters
dallasmovietheaters on January 12, 2015 at 6:49 pm

The first phase of the Corrigan Center was built in 1948 from 1001 Shaw Ave. to the Capitan Theater’s 1045 Shaw Ave. address in the north section of Pasadena. Architected by Raymond F. Smith, the Capitan would open Nov. 19, 1949 by Phil Isley of the Isley circuit and who would open the very similar Granada Theater in Houston. The first films were “Impact” and “San Antone Ambush,” with star Monte Hale of the latter film in attendance. The murals by Colville Smythe of L.A.’s Nat Smythe & Son had oceanic-themed walls with Neptune on a sea horse and Europa riding a bull among the dolphins while the ceiling had a giant mermaid and compass. Seashell-themed carpeting and a spacious and inviting lobby had to be a pleasant surprise for moviegoers. The 11,529 square foot theater was quite a jewel for Pasadena.

Just across the way in 1956, the second portion of the Corrigan Center opened so that in addition to the Capitan, adding a J.C. Penney’s, a W.T. Grant five & dime variety store, and an A&P supermarket. The Corrigan Center had become the economic center of Pasadena and the 1,600 seat theater was a major focal point despite playing mostly second-run fare. But by the end of the 1960s, the Gulfgate Plaza had become the Gulfgate Mall and the Almeda Mall opened six and twelve miles away, respectively. Times were changing quickly and audiences were driving to the General Cinema Gulgate Cinema I & II and the AMC Almeda 4 to see the latest releases. The Capitan was in trouble along with its neighboring Pasadena single screeners. So in 1970 — during the porno chic era of movie exhibition — the Pasadena would switch to X-rated films and – because the city’s Red Bluff Drive-In was also in that space – the Pasadena would even show XXX fare, as well, and would also try Spanish language films before stopping film exhibition around 1976.

The Capitan became a church for a period in the 1970s and when that ended, new theatrical life came from Hispanic film exhibition in the 1980s. That would be the last film projected in the theater. The three-time loser combined with the economic downturn of the Corrigan Center area left the theater in deep trouble and boarded up. In a last ditch effort to salvage the theater, the City of Pasadena bought the Corrigan and devoted $190,000 to fixing the exterior of the theater which remained beautiful from the outside from 2000 to 2014 awaiting a new owner. But the city’s gamble didn’t pay out as the interior of the theater deteriorated and the city’s economic fortunes weren’t too bright. Given the theater’s dismal track record over the past 45 years, the city sold the Corrigan Center for a loss in July of 2014 to a chemical company based in New Jersey. Just prior to the announcement, the theater’s marquee, theater boxes, doors and many other elements were stripped from the premises. There was little doubt that the theater – though still standing in 2015 – would be a casualty in the near future barring an a miracle by Neptune, Europa, or a contemporary capitalist.

snelson
snelson on September 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

My father was projectionist here during the 50s & 60s. I used to ride my bike there every Saturday and spend the matinee there with him in the booth, where he taught me to splice film and use the equipment. I had free passes to give away which made me pretty popular. I remember the manager, other projectionists, the lady selling tickets, the huge speakers behind the screen…pretty cool to a 12 year old boy! Sam

Theaterbug
Theaterbug on October 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Great building. This link includes historic photos of the theater: http://www.houstondeco.org/1940s/capitan.html

jefferyintexas
jefferyintexas on February 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Don, My late father was from Post 1919-1939. I was able to visit Post some years after my dad died. Got a couple of theater pictures there. I have not yet checked to see if they are posted…but I would imagine you have beat me to it! Thanks for the reply. Jeff

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on February 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm

West Texas is home jefferyintexas.

Don…

jefferyintexas
jefferyintexas on February 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Don,
Are you from the Houston area?
Thanks,
Jeff in Texas

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on November 24, 2011 at 11:53 am

From the early 1970s a newspaper ad for the Capitan Theater in Pasadena.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

A photo set of the Capitan taken before and after its restoration.

NeonSky
NeonSky on October 28, 2008 at 10:05 am

Does anyone have an update on the preservation/renovation status
of The Capitan as of Oct. ‘08?

William
William on September 8, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Some of the interior auditorium elements like stage drapes and side walls are like the former Picwood Theatre in West Los Angeles. Both theatres were built for the Phil Isley Theatre chain. The FDYB lists this theatre as seating 608 people.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on September 8, 2008 at 4:40 pm

A view of the Capitan Theater’s twin, the Granada in Houston.

dbush
dbush on March 20, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Current interior and exterior photos of the Capitan are online at www.houstondeco.org

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 11, 2007 at 11:48 pm

This article was in the Deer Park Progress on 5/13/77:
http://tinyurl.com/2kmdev

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on March 20, 2007 at 4:52 pm

It does not look good for the magnificent CAPITAN. We were there and took pictures 3/19/07. It still looks great on the outside, but is trashed on the inside and has gradually become isolated in an industrial area. The only thing that will save this one is lots of $$$$. Also the city of Houston is no longer turning the neon on. (Please take a look at the link KenRoe posted above for a night-time view.)

Here are a few of the images I took.
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682518
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682501
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682461
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682440
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682425
www.flickr.com/photos/lastpictureshow/428682418

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 22, 2006 at 2:49 am

Another night time photo of the Capitan Theater:
http://flickr.com/photos/oneeighteen/115519254/

bratcher
bratcher on October 27, 2005 at 11:05 am

I looked inside this theater in late summer of 2004. They were renovating it. I remember seeing a screen, maybe some seats downstairs & the balcony seats were still there. Projection booth was gutted with one projector base still standing.

djjoe33
djjoe33 on March 17, 2005 at 10:39 am

This IS the theater on 225. Huzzah.

coogs5
coogs5 on March 17, 2005 at 3:00 am

Is this the theater on highway 225? If not, which one is on 225? Thanks

jpallas
jpallas on October 14, 2004 at 2:26 pm

i am the director of a not-for-profit in pasadena with some great ideas for the refurbishment, use, and marketing of the capitan to assist the community and at-risk youth. if anyone has any information about who owns the theatre, what future plans entail, etc.., i would greatly appreciate this information.

djjoe33
djjoe33 on July 23, 2004 at 11:17 pm

I just visited the theater’s exterior today and it doesn’t really look like any renovations have been undertaken. On the outside where the posters should be, pictures of the interior have be posted of the Captain in its prime. It looked beautiful. I’m often stricken with delusions of one day buy this theater and renovating it myself, and showing my favorite films every week or so. Some of these delusions also involve me dressing up as a captain and standing on the sidewalk in front of the theater with a sandwich board on that urges people to come and see a good movie at a good theater, or something to that effect. If anyone has any information, please, inform me.

William
William on December 18, 2003 at 4:41 pm

The Capitan Theatre opened in December of 1950 and the architect was Raymond F. Smith.