Capitol Theater

211 N. Third Street,
Burlington, IA 52601

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Capitol Theater

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One of the most modern and luxurious theaters of its time, the Capitol Theater symbolized hope for Burlington in the darkest days of the Depression. Opened on July 1, 1937 with “The Prince and the Pauper”. Its stunning Art Deco style facade is the most significant remaining element, as its 700 seats were removed and the structure became unstable.

The Capitol Theater fell victim to competition from a nearby multiplex and was mothballed on March 29, 1977 with Piper Laurie in “Carrie” being the final film. In 1996 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

After laying dormant for 35 years, it is set to reopened on June 1, 2012 as a movie theatre & live performance theatre.

Contributed by TC

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 24, 2006 at 12:45 pm

Here are minutes from the Burlington City Council in October 2005, discussing restoration of the Capitol:
http://tinyurl.com/owllk

Doug4422
Doug4422 on June 15, 2006 at 6:43 pm

To inform you all, I am from the city of Burlington, IA, where the Capitol Theater is located, recently, they completely rebuilt the marquee to it’s ORIGINAL set up, and yes, the marquee is used, primarly, it’s rented out to announce retirements, graduations, job promotions, or other things of interest to certain people, and yes, they do turn it on occasionaly, the set up consists of the letters on the top of the marquee, which spelled the name of the theater, in the similar art deco design, painted in yellow, and set up with yellow neon lights, the rest of the marquee had yellow, and blue neon lights, and standard clear theater style “chase” bulbs that bordered the sign that was the centerpiece of the marquee, however, they still, as of yet, placed the bottom sheet metal into it, exposing the wooden 2x4 cross members that gave it the support needed to withstand the weather in the area … currently, they are working on the inside of the theater, attempting to restore it to its former glory, when it was first built … btw, the seating information here is wrong, it doesn’t seat 700, it seats 650.

Something else of note, the theater was deemed structurally sound by an independant firm that had come in, and checked the building out, it was bought by a non profit orginization, called Friends of The Capitol Theater, in 2005, and the rebuilding of the interior was underway, incidentally, it was the first theater in the city to have both a movie screen, and a full stage, and orchestra pit, although the stage only saw an hours worth of use, when it first opened in 1937, it was, and is, still there, as is the attached dressing rooms on the south end of the theater, and a still working elevator, that could take anyone with physical limitations to the mezzanine level, where a smoking lounge was located, that, incidentally, was closed in the mid 60’s, when smoking was banned in theaters by the federal government, due to fire hazards, it was also the first moviehouse in the city to be built specifically for talking pictures, it was closed in 1977, as the article here states, by a multiplex that had come in the Westland Mall, called the West I & II theaters, unfortunately, the seats were pulled out, and placed in a playhouse on the other end of town, called The Player’s Workshop, the theater was nearly completely gutted when it was closed, everything was taken out, and placed in the new theaters in the mall, the only things left, were the large red letters that adorned the marquee, announcing what was playing that day, the signs that hearlded patrons that the balcony was closed, and some old movie posters that have been long destroyed by mold, and mildew.

The current Mall 8 theaters still have one holdover that was once a part of The Capitol, the hanging lights behind the ticket counter.

rebaanders
rebaanders on April 12, 2007 at 8:51 am

I last posted on 4/1/05 and today I read the posting by Dougman dated 7/26/06. That posting is very informative but I felt that I should correct some inaccuracies.

The Capitol Theater was purchased by the Capitol Theater Foundation as I reported in my previous post. This is not the same as the Friends of the Capitol Theater. I have been president of the Capitol Theater Foundation since its inception.

We have completely rebuilt the marquee but have done nothing to the interior. There is no full stage, no dressing rooms, no orchestra pit. This theater was built as a cinema house. There is nor has
there ever been an elevator in the theater. We are fortunate to have the original blue prints from Carl A Nelson.

We will be renovating the Theater and adjacent building into a mult-use performing arts center. We plan to show movies but will be expanding the stage and adding dresssing room in the adjacent building.

I wish I knew how to post a picture to this page as it is very attractive with the renovated marquee.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on April 12, 2007 at 9:11 am

If you have a photo saved as a jpg file on your desktop, you can sign on to photobucket and upload the jpg into your photobucket album. It will then be an url that you can post onto the CT page.

DPIdirector
DPIdirector on August 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

The non-profit Capitol Theater Foundation was awarded a $1 million I-JOBS grant for the renovation of the historic building. Under the terms of the grant, the theater will be reopened in 2012! View link

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on August 17, 2010 at 11:07 am

That is good news DPI,from the photos I have seen looks nice from the outside,good luck to them.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 8, 2010 at 1:47 am

The Capitol was designed by the Des Moines architectural firm Wetherell & Harrison. The caption on this Flickr photo page has the story.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on September 18, 2010 at 8:34 pm

A recent block party was recently thrown to raise funds and give tours of the theater prior to its renovation into a performing arts center: View link

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm

The Capitol Theater now has a web site. The renovated house is scheduled to reopen on June 1.

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