Empire Capitol 7

223 Princess Street,
Kingston, ON K7L 1B3

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Located in the heart of historic downtown Kingston, the Allen Theatre was opened by the Allen Theatres chain on December 30, 1920. It had a 1,207 seating capacity. Later taken over by Famous Players and renamed Capitol Theatre.

Renovated in 1990, the Capitol 7 was for a long time a wonderful place for families to go and watch first run films. The Capitol 7 was one of the oldest functioning theatres in Ontraio, and the friendly staff and management really did a great job maintaining its strong reputation.

What singled this theatre out from others in the area was that the staff seem to really ‘care’ about their job and gave customers the best experience possible. The lobby and auditoriums were always clean. The ushers were always friendly and often approach you after the film and inquire as to your opinion of it (they even sometimes remember what movie you saw!!) The sound levels were always perfect (and if they weren’t, staff weres more than happy to adjust it at the audience’s request). Rarely were there scratches or problems with the films and the projectionists were constantly adjusting the focus to make the picture as clear as possible.

Sure the screens weren’t as large as other theatres in the area, but the overall experience made this theatre the best place to go to watch movies in Kingston. It was closed in December 2012 when the new Empire Theatres Kingston multiplex opened in another part of town.

Contributed by Damon Lindelof

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

telliott
telliott on September 20, 2007 at 11:04 am

How did they divide this theatre in to 7? Did the original have a balcony, that was divided as well as the main floor? Or did they add on to the building at the back or beside it. I love when they keep older theatres open, even if it means dividing them since ususally the lobby areas are kept as they originally were.

spectrum
spectrum on October 20, 2007 at 8:13 am

According to the AFY Yearbook of 1936, the Capitol then seated 1,207.

Showgirl
Showgirl on April 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm

This theatre was purchased by the Famous Players Canadian Corp. in 1929. It has always been a movie theatre. It was built in 1923 by the Allen Bros. I got this information from the library. We hold 1316 seats currently. We still have a catwalk that goes up over the original ceiling upstairs. The Olympia is part of the original cinema 1…the largest house. I have pictures from 1923 to currently of the building. The stone front with the lion heads and columns are original from the day it was built, still hold up our marquee. Our last renovation was in 1990 to the 7-plex. Currently, we’ve fixed up our front & back marquees (with flashing lights still) and put in new seats in the largest cinema. Most of our curtains are working and open/close for each performance.

vic1964
vic1964 on September 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm

The front facade looks like London Ontario Capitol which was a C Howard Crane theatre built by the Allen chain.

telliott
telliott on January 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Before this theatre closes when the new Empire opens, can someone tell me how this was divided from one single theatre in to 7?? I’ve always wondered how 7 screens were fit in to the original.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on January 17, 2012 at 9:15 pm

It’s closing? Shame. Always wanted to visit there, but understand if there’s a new one opening nearby. (I keep hearing about how awesome the new Empire locations are, even though they have yet to build one in BC).

I too am curious how they divided it up and would love to see interior photos.

telliott
telliott on January 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I know Jason, I always hoped to make it here too. I love the marquee out front and on Google streetview have gone around to the back where it appears that there is the original building and an add on to the north of it. They have a marquee back there too.

By the way, LOVE LOVE the photos you posted awhile back showing the late great Uptown in Toronto, OMG I miss that place. Now there is an art deco looking condo building on the site called…The Uptown. I especially love the photo taken from the front and above, showing the tall Uptown sign, and the entrance leading from the main doors, up over the alleyway to the main huge Uptown building with the great black roof. That is exactly the view from my nephew’s former apartment when he lived in the tower of the Hudson’s Bay Centre.

telliott
telliott on February 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

I guess no one from Kingston knows how this was divided up. Too bad Empire couldn’t update this location instead of building way up near 401. That will leave downtown Kingston with only the small Screening Room. That’s a shame. Downtown Windsor recently lost it only cinema location, ironic since both Windsor & Kingston downtowns are close to their respective universities, which I’m sure makes up a good portion of their audience.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on February 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Hey Tim,

I think I recall those Uptown pics were from another person’s Flickr account. That and the archive photos were the only photos I ever found of the place.

As for the Kingston 7, I couldn’t find photos either but it would appear the multiplexing was done under the 80’s Famous Players design where every cinema had a name (“Rialto” “Bijou” etc). There are still two of them in existence in Greater Vancouver (Esplanade 6 in North Van and Station Square 7 in Burnaby) and are both good cinemas.

telliott
telliott on February 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

That’s cool Jason. I remember several Toronto area theatres that were named the same way. I guess any Famous Players theatre built or renovated during that era had their cinemas named for former movie palaces. I thought that was a great idea. My favourite was the Oakville Town Centre cinemas where the lobby looked like a street, with the ceiling blue as the sky and each cinema entrance had their own marquee each in a different style with their cinema name and what was playing. Looked just like an old fashioned main street.

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