Capitol Theatre

Peachtree Street,
Atlanta, GA

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Capitol Theatre 1939

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The Capitol was located in the 200 block of Peachtree Street adjacent to the Roxy Theatre.

Their marquees were located so close to each other that one end of each butted together.

If anyone has further information on this theatre it would be greatly appreciated.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

theatreorganmana on November 12, 2005 at 4:06 am

The Capitol Theatre, financed with the interests of the Asa Candler family of Atlanta (of Coca-Cola fame) was almost as large as the Roxy Theatre. Although its entrance fronted on Peachtree Street, the actual auditorium was to the left rear side of the Davison-Paxon Building.

The theatre was pure Adam in its execution. Starrett and Von Vleck, architects, designed an unusual “catapulted” square proscenium of with elaborate poloychrome decoration featuring Pompeiian figures, swags, griffons—all a dead ringer for the Adam Brother’s Syon House in England.

The house curtain was fashioned with a stunning valance featuring a “Wedgwood-like” medallion at the center and a della robbia “garland” resting above. As the Capitol opened as a combination movie and “Vodvil” [this spelling used in the theatre’s advertising] house, there were ennunciator boards on either side of the stage.

The side walls of the auditorium made a clear statement that a pipe organ was in the house; the two chambers featured exposed gilded metal diapason pipes framed by swagged valances and draped panels at either end. The side lighting in the auditorium offered delicate five-arm sconces fashioned in the style of Waterford candelabra. Panels on the side walls were finished in silk damask. Classical urns toppped the organ grilles which housed a three manual Robert Morton organ with a white console (located on the left side of the orchestra pit). This organ, Opus 2310, was unusual in that besides its fifteen ranks of pipes it featured Morton’s novel “V'Oleon” which was an actual mechancial device of strings played by a revolving roller “bowing” them to produce imitative orchestral sounds!

The Capitol’s lobby area could have been fitted by the Adam Brothers themselves. Furnishings were in the Hepplewhite and Sheraton style and were flanked by a triad of low-relief wall niches. The extreme left and right niches were mirrored and overlaid with gilded swags. The center niche featured polychrome Pompeiian motifs and a silk damask panel. The chandelier at the grand staircase was truly remarkable and—true to the Adam style—was far more delicate and historically accurate than the fixtures in other movie palaces of the period.

The Capitol was an “early” architectural loss for Atlanta. Always in competition with the neighboring Roxy (ne Keith’s Georgia), it was inevitable that one of the houses would fold. To have closed in the forties, the Capitol went to the slaughter at a tender age.

The theatre’s Morton, after spending time at LaGrange College and later in a private residence in Fairburn, Georgia, is to be installed in the Strand Theatre in Marietta, GA. The Strand’s art deco guise is quite different from the Adamesque Capitol, but it is good that the organ will again sound less than fifty miles away from its original home.

Don K.
Don K. on November 29, 2005 at 3:36 pm

John – Superb post! You have absolutely outdone yourself this time! Where on earth did you unearth such research? Not that I’m doubting you! Do you know of any interior photographs of the Capitol’s lobby and auditorium? It seems that my deduction was basicly correct, the Capitol’s auditorium was at the rear of the Davison-Paxon building. Somehow I’m not surprised that the Asa Candler family was involved in the financing. They were literally pillars of society in their day.

From the way my late father talked about the Capitol, I gathered that it was a theatre that he really liked.

Don K.
Don K. on November 30, 2005 at 3:55 am

Here is a link to the website for Syon Park in England, the great Ducal Estate that includes Syon House, designed by Adams:

The photographs of the magnificent interior of Syon House give some idea of what the interior of Atlanta’s long gone Capitol Theatre must have been like.

Don K.
Don K. on June 12, 2007 at 1:23 pm

The fire at the Winecoff Hotel was one of Atlanta’s great tragedies. If memory serves, it occurred in 1946. The Winecoff Hotel was built circa 1913 and it did not have a sprinkler system or a fire escape (at that time). The fire swept through much of the building, trapping people on the upper floors. Regrettably, I do not recall the number of people who lost their lives. It was a positively dreadful event.

The thought of another fire in the Capitol Theatre the following year must have been genuinely frightening at the time. It’s no wonder that the Atlanta Fire Department took it very seriously.

Thanks, Lost Memory, for this bit of Atlanta history.

Don K.
Don K. on June 14, 2007 at 11:53 am

Thanks again, Lost Memory! The next time I’m in Atlanta I hope to look up this tragic event in the newspaper files at the Atlanta Public Library.

The fire at the Capitol Theatre must have been especially frightening coming only about a month after the fire at the Winecoff Hotel. That disasterous event left a long shadow on the city of Atlanta.

1234 on June 24, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Over the past year I have been doing a series of articles on Atlanta'a movie theatre’s that had pipe organs. These were published in the Atlanta Chapter ATOS newsletter. The Capitol is perhaps one of the least known of the larger movie palaces in Atlanta and hopefully I have included photographs of the interior and exterior along with information about the organ.
The article is on the chapter website for a limited time (one year)
and is in the April 2007 newsleter. Just go to the website and find that month in the newsletter section Hope you enjoy

Don K.
Don K. on September 28, 2007 at 11:19 am

John – Thank you for your excellent article on The Capitol Theatre on the Atlanta Chapter ATOS newsletter website! Since you cited the first run of of the 1931 FRANKENSTEIN, I thought I would elaborate on my previous comment about it. My dad told me on several occasions about seeing FRANKENSTEIN at a midnight sneak preview before the regular run. The audience had no idea of what film they would be seeing. The theater did brisk business on these sneak previews. My dad was a teenager at that time and he was thoroughly movie crazy, a trait that I inherited as much by nature as by nurture. I wish you could have seen his face light up when he told me about the impact that FRANKENSTEIN had on that unsuspecting audience! He said the “creation” scene was literally electrifying (you’ll excuse the bad pun). The audience hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. He told me that people literally screamed and women ran out of the theatre! The end result was that the audience loved it! It was obvious that Universal had a major hit on its hands.

My dad obviously liked the Capital Theatre. Somehow I had the feeling that I would have liked going to the Capitol Theatre, too!

dugfowlr on January 20, 2009 at 11:12 am

In 1944, when I judge that the Capitol had already seen its best days, we in the school boy patrol had Saturday meetings there, following which we got to see currently popular “B” movies, such as “Pistol Packin' Mama”, and “ "Cat People.”

TLSLOEWS on June 28, 2010 at 11:35 am

Man from the photos the Capitol and Roxy marquees were close.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

The Capitol had “accommodations for colored people on Ellis Street”. According to a 1928 ad.

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