313 Donald Street,
313 Donald Street,Winnipeg, MB R3B 2B4
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Twinned Grand Opening June 8, 1979 – Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver in Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and Ali MacGraw, Dean Paul Martin and Maximilian Schell in Anthony Harvey’s “Players” at the newly twinned Capitol Cinemas in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Print ad, article and photo added courtesy Stephen Leigh.
The Warren Organ from here is part of the installation in the Obrien Theatre Renfrew Ontario along with the Starland’s organ
I stand corrected. I asked my mom, who is from Winnipeg and indeed he did not book for this theater. My mother worked at the Paramount and Universal exchanges in Winnipeg and as I said my grandfather, after working at Universal and RKO, went over to Rothstein Theaters. That’s when he was awarded the Canadian Motion Picture Pioneer of the Year (Hy Swartz).
My mom says we did go to movies at this theater,as we went from Minnesota to Winnipeg several times a year but I don’t remember as I would have been under 10 years old.
Sorry mntwister If your grandfather worked for Rothstein theatres it would be impossible for him to book any Famous Players Theatres as they had their own bookers that worked out of the Toronto head office!!
burningdust I would love to have a dvd of the video you took. My info is on my page. Thank you, let me know how much to ship if you are willing. My Grandfather used to work for Rothstein Theaters of Canada and booked all of the movies into this theater for many years. His offices were located in the Marlborough Hotel on the 2nd floor.
I had just seen “The Two Jakes” at the Capitol 2 (which was the original balcony of the old single seat auditorium.) The crowd was sparse. I watched some of the credits while the handful of other patrons filed out. Whatever the movie was downstairs had already let out. As I got to the door on Donald, the usher, a young kid, said to me “Congratulations Sir – You are the last customer in the Capitol theatre. We’re closing the doors tonight.” And so they did – although the building stood empty for several years after that.
Here is an April 1960 ad from the Winnipeg Free Press:
Those photos show the Capitol as I remember it, not the hacked up horror after twinning. By 1978 (the year of the photos) all traces of the orchestra pit and organ are gone (except for the organ grilles) along with the large central chandelier hanging from the dome. Could the chandelier have been removed as long ago as the 50’s when the Cinemascope screen was installed?
Heres a link to three excellent interior photos of the Capitol. ere
This theatre reminds me a lot of the Palace in Hamilton, which was also designed by Thomas Lamb.
I can’t wait to see more of your pictures of the Capitol. I think it was much nier than the met, even after it was split, although, the Met has a beautiful facade.
If only the Capitol’s guts could be in the Met’s shell.
And, don’t chastise me, but I love the Met too, its just that I think the Capitol was much, much more beautiful and I think they went more for saving the Met because it was never split. And I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Cap’s chandelier (anyone have pictures of it?) or why the Met was never hacked up?
Hello there i see that some of the same people tour this page as does the Met,, takening a suggestion ( a good one at that) to post my photo pages for some of winnipegs theatres, of which i have three listed, The Met, The capital, and the Colony, these insider photos can be viewed at this link, View link
hope you enjoy look at the Met postings for infor regarding these photos, thanks for the suggestion sam,, as for some inside information on the capital, i had worked in this place for a few nites as exta staff, when i was in there after it closed Greg Agnew and myself took it upon ourselves to look it over well, he is a great sorce of information on winnipeg history, we had moved around the capital and had found underneath the stage the old band shell, somewhere i have photos and will post them when there located, but under there we had recovered i think at least 5 music sheet stands, as well as many documents regarding Famous Players records which were left over at the Met in the office, The Cap was near the end the Head office for Famous players in manitoba, upstairs we had also found a old combonation sink, oven, stove mini electric applience which looked like it would have been from the 50s, one of the old projection stands were also in the walk way as well, but somewhere i do have other photos of the Cap, so stay tuned, Ken
I really just want to know why Winnipeg has the Historical Building’s list if a building can be “voted” off of it? That’s a rediculous loophole that defeats the whole purpose of even having a list.
I hope my photo’s kind of show that it really wasn’t as bad as they had said. Sure, some quickly-done renovations in the seventies gave way to gravity when the building was without heat and did the freeze-thaw cycle… But we just moved onto an abandoned horse ranch to fix up, and the office ceiling in one of the barns came crashing to the floor. Are we going to tear down this beautiful building? NO! We’re going to put a new roof on it (tin/metal due to the high wind out here ripping off shingles like nothing) and we’re going to erect a new ceiling. Case open, case closed.
I am eagerly awaiting that DVD, and I will, as always, update this forum.
No problem, yes it really was sadly amusing how the city officials presented such a “show” on and near the destruction of the Capitol.
Interesting how the stories seemed to change from there being a huge “flood” to the entire building being infested with mould. The media was quite restricted as well.. As Sam mentioned, obviously it was “an offer they couldn’t refuse”..
burningdust- I would love to get a copy of that. E-mail me at please!
And thank-you for your comment! I really don’t think the building looked as bad as “they” all were saying. It was really just false drywall ceilings that collapsed.
I was on site during the final few days of demolition and taped a good portion of the destruction. I did have the oppertunity to enter the building earlier but I choose not to since I didn’t have the right safety gear handy. (mould issues) however now I wish I had taken the vid camera in for a few shots..
I’m going to transfer the video to DVD; any of you are welcome to have a copy if your interested.
It’s pretty sad, but interesting how the auditorium doesn’t look too bad once exposed in the daylight.
They caught me by surprise with that too, walking past the newspapers in 7-11 one morning.
In other words it was a done deal. The city had “an offer they couldn’t refuse” for the property and allowed the theatre to fall into a serious state of decay. That way there would be little argument for its preservation. Demolition was speedy and without any fanfare whatsoever as I recall.
Those were very exclusive pictures I posted. I had to sign a waiver, and wear a hard hat and face mask.
The pictures are from 2001. The building had already been condemned. Even city councillors were not allowed in at that time.
Sad to see what happened to the Cap at the end. Here and there in those pictures you can see a little of the splendor that it once was, as well as the mangled remodel job that Famous Players inflicted upon it in converting it to two screens. It’s unfortunate that no shots of the original main entrance, marquee, vertical sign, foyer and staircase on Portage Av. have surfaced. It matched the grandeur of Lamb’s auditorium design. Even the older Donald St facade, marquee and vertical sign, while never as grand as the Portage Av entrance, looked better than the replacement seen in the picture above.
Originally, Alexander Pantages was lured away by Famous Players to handle the live entertainment bookings for the Capitol and closed his Pantages theatre (now the Pantages Playhouse). That theatre came under city ownership for back taxes and has been operated continuously by city agencies since 1923.
mntwister- Please see the Winnipeg listings at http://www.cinematour.com for Capitol pictures when it was condemned.
Here’s the exact link of pictures I took in 2001: http://www.cinematour.com/tour/ca/3021.html
How sad. My mother is from Winnipeg and as a child, we always went to this theatre, and saw many good films there, including Sound of Music and many roadshows. My grandfather worked for Rolstein(spelling?) theatres and booked the movies in these cinemas. So we got in free all of the time. We went to Winnipeg many times, maybe 2 or 3 a year while I was young. This year (2005) I am going up and wanted to tour it, so very sad that they have torn it down, it was absolutely beautiful. Shame on the city of Winnipeg
Yeah, right, have them tell you another. Thomas Lamb always did them the same way, hung with steel cable about ½" to ¾" thick on a windlass that doesn’t need a brake or ratchet, mounted on the girders in the ceiling. None of his chandeliers have fallen. Somebody cut it loose. Whether it was cut loose for fun by vandals or by someone who just wanted it out of the way is an interesting question. But not a hard one.
This was in response to the fact that the chandelier came crashing down one night and was never replaced.
The Capitol Theatre apparently had best Dolby Stereo sound system in Winnipeg.
This was stated by Paul McKie and Randall King when they did ratings of each theatre in town.
The Capitol originally had a Warren 3/13 organ which was removed c1947. The organ is currently installed in the O'Brien theater in Renfrew Ontario, along with parts from two other area theater organs.
According to industry technicians, the Capitol remained as a changeover house until it closed, as did the Met.
Equipment wise, it had:
2- Cinemeccanica VICTORIA 10 Projectors
2- Xebex Supersol 4kw Lamphouses
2- Strong Simplex XL Projectors
2- Xebex Hi-Beam III 3kw Lamphouses
It upgraded its carbon arc (like two welding rods making contact to prodcue light) lamphouses in 1979 when it was divided.