Capitol Arts Theatre
416 East Main Street,
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The Capitol Theatre was built around 1890 under the name Columbia Theatre. About 1930 it was completely rebuilt in budget Art Deco style as a cinema with a small stage. The multi-colored neon marquee is quite handsome. The lobby is simple and tasteful. The auditorium, is quite, quite plain with only some simple cove lighting and a decorative proscenium. The auditorium retains its old plan: two aisles, fifteen seats across the middle, seven (or so) seats at the sides.
The cinema closed in 1971 and stood empty for almost 10 years. Capitol Arts bought the building in 1977 and by 1981 had raised almost $2 million and successfully renovated the entire building.
Unlike many small-town cinemas which have been rebuilt as community arts centers, this building was able to make the transition and retain almost its entire original configuration. Auditorium space did not need to be stolen to expand the stage or create a lobby. Additional square footage was obtained for offices and art galleries by opening into the former retail spaces on either side of the lobby.
In order to accomodate modern stage lighting a metal truss was introduced into the auditorium from which lighting instruments could be safely and effectively mounted. That truss is an intrusion to the room’s otherwise clean, straight lines, but the additional visual interest, even if something of an anachronism for a 1930’s theatre, is not unwelcome. And let’s face it: you have to have lights.
The Capitol continues to operate successfully and once again is a major contributor to the city’s entertainment venues.
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