Capitol Theater

48 Rouss Avenue,
Winchester, VA 22601

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Empire Theatre, Winchester, Virginia

The Empire Theater was opened on December 25, 1913. The name was changed to Capitol Theater in 1927. This theater closed around 1964.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm

The Empire Theatre opened in June, 1909, but the original building was destroyed by fire in July, 1912. The house was rebuilt, and reopened on Christmas Day, 1913. The entrance of the Empire Theatre was on N. Cameron Street, but when the house was taken over by Warner Brothers as the Capitol Theatre it was remodeled and a new entrance was opened on Rouss Avenue.

Comfortably Cool
Comfortably Cool on February 15, 2016 at 11:31 am

The Capitol Theatre opened in 1929, apparently early enough to be featured in the June 8th issue of Exhibitors Herald-World. No mention was made of replacing an earlier Capitol Theatre. Construction cost was reported as $120,000, or $1,000 for each of the Capitol’s 1,200 seats. The theatre had a Robert Morton organ, but limited stage facilities and no refrigeration system. Joseph Nielsen, an architect of Harrisonburg, VA, was credited with the Spanish-influenced design. The Capitol was operated by Shenandoah Valley Theatre Corporation, in affiliation with Universal Pictures Theatre Company.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on August 28, 2018 at 6:38 pm

From “The Moving Picture World” May 15, 1915: The New Empire Theater, Winchester, VA., was built through the public spirit of W.H. Baker, the noted chocolate manufacturer, at a cost of $50.000, and is evidence of his broad interest in the welfare of his home town. The house was designed by J. Henkel Henry, vice-president and secretary of the Empire Amusement Corporation of Winchester, lessees of the structure. The work of construction was personally supervised by Mr. Henry.

Before entering the picture business, Mr. Henry owned and successfully managed a skating rink on the site of the Empire. When the skating rage decreased, the rink was converted into a picture and vaudeville house, which Mr. Henry conducted up to about two years ago, when the structure was destroyed by fire. The Empire was then erected upon the site, and it is one of the finest theaters of its kind for a town the size of Winchester.

The stage is fully equipped and can handle the largest traveling show, it being 35 feet deep, 60 feet across and 60 feet to the gridiron. in the dressing rooms there is hot and cold water, and gas as well as electricity. Each room is well ventilated. The Empire is among the first theaters to use the automatic sprinkler system. The drop curtain is asbestos.

The booth is unconventional in shape; it resembles in appearance a small cottage. The port holes of the booth have been banked and painted so that they bear a similitude to real cottage windows. The roof is gabled, and the flue running to the roof of the theater proper carrying off the heat looks like a chimney and accentuates the illusion of the booth being a cottage. The operating room is practically fireproof. The exterior is pebble dashed. It is fitted with all conveniences.

The indirect lighting system is used. The floors are carpeted, and the walls and ceilings are adorned with rich frescoes. The most attractive painting is directly over the proscenium arch and represents the people of Winchester appealing to George Washington for the protection against the Indians.

The Empire was dedicated Christmas Day, 1913, and has been making considerable profit since that date under its efficient management. The admission prices are usually 10 and 20 cents. The better class of road shows and vaudeville are run intermittently, but pictures are the principal form of amusement.

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