Capitol Arts Theatre

416 East Main Street,
Bowling Green, KY 42101

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Raining in Bowling Green

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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 around 1969 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.

Contributed by Will Dunklin

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 27, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Here is another view of the marquee:
http://tinyurl.com/2mgq3x

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 4, 2008 at 9:25 am

My Brother Talks to Horses with Jackie ‘Butch’ Jenkins and Peter Lawford was released in February of 1947.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 22, 2008 at 6:20 am

This is an older photo circa 2002.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 8, 2009 at 6:22 pm

A 2008 photo can be seen here.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 6, 2009 at 7:08 pm

This site has a photo of the Capitol Theater.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

I looked for the circa-1890 Columbia Theatre in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. But the only theater listed under Bowling Green KY was Potter’s Opera House, no street address given, managed by J.M. Robertson and having 950 seats.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Well, someone explain to me How THE CAPITOL closed in 1967 when on Jan 1 1969 it was playing “THE IMPOSSIBLE YEARS” you guys got a date wrong.Check the local paper MOVIE ADS like I do.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on November 8, 2010 at 4:37 am

Great looking marquee on this one.

Silk76
Silk76 on January 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm

This place is classic. When I first moved to Bowling Green from Chicago in 1992, I spent my first New year with my ex-wife here, as the town was doing “First Night” I got to see Jeff Foxworthy, and talk to him after. If I can get some pics of the inside, I’ll post them.

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