Capitol Theater

206 East 5th Avenue,
Olympia, WA 98501

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Showing 1 - 25 of 37 comments

KenLayton on August 8, 2011 at 1:06 pm

February 25 to March 6, 1937 the theater was closed for repairs/remodeling due to a previous small fire in mid February 1937. Then came the big fire of April 24, 1937.

KenLayton on August 7, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Boxoffice magazine did a story about the April 24, 1937 fire. It is on this page:

KenLayton on August 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

The theater got remodeled again in 1948. Theater reopened on Friday May 7, 1948. Installed were Gulistan carpets and draperies along with Heywood-Wakefield seats.

KenLayton on August 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm


Theater opens Tuesday October 7, 1924.

Theater remodeled March 1937.

Major fire damages theater. Balcony, mezzanine, and projection booth destroyed. Roof and ceiling damaged. Fire alarm turned in at 9:28 A.M. of Saturday April 24, 1937. Cause of fire determined to be spontaneous combustion of a single reel of nitrate 35mm film that had just been delivered the night before and was temporarily in the janitor’s closet in the mezzanine awaiting to be taken to the projection booth. Theater will be closed for several months to repair the damage.

Theater reopens after repairing the fire damage on Wednesday August 25, 1937. A brand new Western Electric “Mirrophonic” sound system was installed along with hearing assistance headphones available in selected seats.

KenLayton on September 18, 2010 at 8:36 am

The Capitol Theater has been sold to the Olympia Film Society.

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TLSLOEWS on February 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Nice shot of the new vertical,looks very much like the old one in the shots.

pkings on November 19, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Hi, I’m very pleased to have found this thread. I’m really enthused about the theatre. I’ve been an OFS volunteer for about 4 years, and a projectionist at the Capital Theatre for about the last two years. I have a picture of myself and some friends here in front of the new marquee at its unveiling at opening night of the recent 25th annual Olympia Film Festival. Lets see if this works..

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kencmcintyre on November 14, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Interesting. Thanks.

kencmcintyre on November 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm

That’s too bad. Missed it by a couple of days.

kencmcintyre on November 13, 2008 at 12:20 pm

I know that. I was just there, so I was curious about the exact date.

kencmcintyre on November 13, 2008 at 12:15 pm

When did they put that up?

KenLayton on November 13, 2008 at 12:13 pm

The theater now has a brand new marquee! I would have never believed it would happen with our city sign ordinances being so restrictive.

NativeForestHiller on February 3, 2008 at 8:09 pm

I am a preservationist and theater buff from the Big Apple, and I am happy that I came across this thread. I consider the removal of the 40s era marquee bittersweet as well. I take pride that the Greek-inspired stained glass has once again been revealed for all to appreciate, but why does the marquee have to be demolished? It can be donated “as is” to the American Sign Museum:
Can someone please convince the owner to donate it (in exchange for a tax write-off) and spare it from demolition?

This is a more direct link for the latest article:

Please keep me posted. Thanks!

kateymac01 on January 29, 2008 at 4:43 pm

It sounds like the vertical sign is something the Oly Film Society wants to work on. And if they can get some historic preservation folks behind ‘em, that would help their cause. No matter what, though, the name of the theater is etched into the building’s facade, and now we get to see those gorgeous old stained glass windows. I’d love this to be the start of people rallying around this theater and giving it some love.

KenLayton on January 29, 2008 at 3:21 pm

City of Olympia sign ordinances are very restrictive. I’d be very surprised if a vertical sign was allowed.

kateymac01 on January 29, 2008 at 11:50 am

Ken, I like the photos of the Capitol you posted. I see that some of your pix are from the State Theater, too. Love that old box office at the State.

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

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.

HowardBHaas on May 6, 2007 at 6:30 am

Recent exterior photos by Rob Bender of exterior and balcony:

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