Capitol Theater

206 East 5th Avenue,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Showing 26 - 50 of 51 comments

kateymac01 on January 29, 2008 at 11:48 am

The marquee of this theater is coming down. Demolition started yesterday (1/28). The good news is that removing the marquee revealed gorgeous stained glass windows. They depict four of the nine muses of Greek mythology.

The marquee being removed has been on the building since 1940, although it hasn’t lit up since the early 1990s. There’s talk of adding a marquee that mimics the 1924 original, which was a vertical sign.

There are photos of the demolition and a story at

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 24, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Here is a recent photo of the Capitol Theater.

kencmcintyre on December 24, 2007 at 4:08 pm

I took a walk around the building today. There’s a huge graffiti-style mural on the back wall. I couldn’t tell if this was sponsored or just vandalism.

kencmcintyre on October 22, 2007 at 4:33 pm

Here are some recent views of the marquee when it was part of a public art project:

olympiafilmsociety on September 12, 2007 at 11:46 pm

September 1, 2007

Dear volunteers, community members and patrons of the Olympia Film Society,

This letter from the OFS Board of Directors is in response to the August 26th, 2007 letter to the Board from a group of OFS volunteers, expressing concern about the process of termination of Jeffrey Bartone. We appreciate the attendance at last Saturday’s meeting, the openness in communication and ability to dialogue respectfully and clearly about really difficult issues.

First of all we would like to say that the collective volunteer hours, efforts, and passions that you all and other OFS volunteers have poured into OFS over the years are invaluable. OFS' volunteers are its heartbeat and foundation, and have made OFS the wonderful, diverse, and creative place that it is. Also, thank you for recognizing our volunteer contribution to OFS.

You request in your letter that the decision to terminate Jeffrey be revoked, and a re-vote be taken. The OFS Board, including the new members (a total of eight members), has reviewed the request and has not consented to revote on this decision. After much discussion the general feeling of the Board is that we should move forward with the existing decision and try to work toward a better future for OFS. The Staff collective also supports moving forward with the existing decision.

We continue to believe the decision was made with the best interests of OFS in mind, and we want to move now toward healing, improved communication, inclusion, better understanding, and operating the theater. We would like to hear your ideas and thoughts about how we can improve communications and relations with volunteers (or any other aspects of running our unique organization). At the upcoming September 11th Board meeting*, there will be a section of the agenda for input and discussion about Volunteers communications. (Note, Board meetings are now held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month,. 5:30 p.m.).

Board members have been conscious of and concerned by the need to bring more members into the Board. We know this will make us work more effectively and alleviate certain burnout. Over the last year the Board has made concerted efforts to increase it’s membership. Individual Board members have made public announcements before large events, we have signs posted in the theater, Board meeting s are consistently scheduled (now on the 2nd Tuesday of the month) and in an accessible location. Meetings have been shortened by a more efficient process, announcements including meeting agendas are emailed, and Board members have invited volunteers and OFS members to join. Our efforts have paid off and have added 4 new members just in the last couple months! We can always do more. We welcome your suggestions of how to bring more energy into the Board.

You have also expressed concern about what is going to happen at the theater to cover Jeff’s duties. A hiring committee is being formed now. The first job of the hiring committee will be to review the job description (standard part of the OFS hiring process) to make any changes, clarifications, or shifts in duties that would be beneficial. Several experienced community members have stepped in to evaluate the technical aspects of our presentations equipment (audio and visual) to familiarize themselves with the theater systems, and to be available for repairs if needed.

We are working to fill volunteers projection shifts and hope very much that some of you will want to come back as projectionists. The Board and Staff of OFS want to let all volunteers know they are very welcome at the theater, and encourage their continued participation regardless of what their position is on this matter. All volunteers still are and will always be welcome.

We also want to state that the termination of Jeff is not intended to hearken a general shift in OFS' philosophy or tone. OFS' signature diversity and inclusiveness of all sorts of people and passions is very important to the identity of this organization and we have no desire to change that. We do want to find ways to improve and preserve our income so that we can keep the doors open for a long time. But, in doing so we don’t want to make OFS an un-fun place to be for its members and volunteers. We hope we can balance all of these things and would invite the assistance of anyone who has ideas about how to do so.

Finally (for now), we hope that this letter is not the end of our communication with you and other concerned members of the OFS community. We need input, ideas and action from all of you to keep our beautiful and eclectic organization alive and thriving.


The Olympia Film Society Board of Directors

Mike Cousino
Carrie Keith
Marcie LaViollette
Joyce Mercuri
Isaac Overcast
Paul Schuster
Dylan Sharp
Audrey Henley (staff Representative to Board)

KenLayton on September 11, 2007 at 9:41 am

A big shakeup at this theater last week. It was reported in the Olympian newspaper (Olympia, Wash.) that the board of director suddenly dismissed long time (21 years) Technical Director Jeff Bartone. As a result, a bunch of volunteers also walked out in sympathy and left no one to operate the projector. Several showings were cancelled.

I thought Jeff was doing a good job there and the board was wrong to dismiss him.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on August 5, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Another photo of the Capitol Theater can be seen here.

HowardBHaas on May 6, 2007 at 6:30 am

Recent exterior photos by Rob Bender of exterior and balcony:

View link

View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 30, 2006 at 2:18 pm

Here is a recent distant photo of the Capitol Theater and this is a close-up of the marquee.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 7, 2006 at 9:26 am

This is a recent photo of the Capitol Theater.

channeloh on February 25, 2006 at 6:25 am

Yes, the east side blew out in a wind storm a couple months ago and is being repaired. The whole building has serious repair needs, and until ownership is resolved nothing can be done…

channeloh on February 25, 2006 at 6:25 am

Ye, the east side blew out in a wind storm a couple months ago and is being repaired. The whole building has serious repair needs, and until ownership is resolved nothing can be done…

KenLayton on February 24, 2006 at 7:48 pm

The east side of the marquee currently has nothing in it! All the glass panels and letter tracks are gone. This marquee has major rust problems!

channeloh on February 24, 2006 at 4:59 pm

Well, that’s a bit of a difficult question since there’s currently a court case pending about whether or not Andy Crow, who has owned the theater on and off for many years, agreed to sell it to a previous manager. Stay tuned…

cpb on February 24, 2006 at 2:16 pm

I know the OFS leases the theater, but who owns it?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 25, 2005 at 4:21 pm

Here is another photo of the Capitol Theater in Olympia.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 6, 2005 at 9:15 am

This is 2001 photo of the Capitol Theater. And this is a 2004 photo.

teecee on May 17, 2005 at 6:05 am

Exterior photos from 2000:
View link

channeloh on February 23, 2005 at 11:30 pm

The Capitol was built in 1924 at a cost of $180,000 in the Mission Revival/Beaux Arts style by E. A. Zabel, who owned a series of local theaters including the Lyric, Strand, Acme, Rex and Ray. The building features glazed terra cotta and, behind the present marquee, circular leaded art glass insets depicting the muses and originally flanked by terra cotta masks. A fire in 1937 caused extensive damage and much of the interior was replaced. The large neon marquee was added in 1940. The theater is currently leased by the Olympia Film Society, the second largest membership-based arts organization in Washington State (correct website is Plaster aside, the theater did an admirable job riding out the 2001 earthquake in Olympia. As might be expected for an 80-year old structure, there are significant repair and restoration needs but few dollars available. Fundraising efforts are ongoing. In the meantime, as the only affordable venue of its size in the area, the theater continues to serve as a performance space for wide diversity of community groups (far more than just the rock bands alluded to above).

davidr on January 16, 2005 at 11:54 am

does anyone know who the owner is? Also can anyone discribe the interior? I was curious as to the overall condition of the theater.

TonyLNdotcom on January 6, 2005 at 9:41 am

I remember when I was a student at Pioneer Elementary School in Olympia, WA. The other students and I would take a bus down to the Capitol Theater to watch plays called, “Junior Programs”. The Washington Center for the Performing Arts also used to be a theater much like the capitol. I remember going there to see the movie “Jaws” when it just hit the big screen. Only I was kinda dissapointed to find that they were no longer showing Jaws, but was happy that they had just begun to show the remake of “King Kong” starring Jessica Lange!!! Tony L.N.

KenLayton on March 16, 2004 at 8:20 am

The stage in the Capitol Theater is not big enough for an orchestra. Besides, the Olympia Symphony Orchestra already call the huge Washington Center for the Performing Arts (across the street from the Capitol Theater) their home. The Capitol Theater currently is very dilapidated and the marquee is totally rusted out with large holes in it. The pictures I submitted were from 1981 when the theater looked excellent and was under much better care & management.