Capitol Theatre

150 N. Queen Street,
Lancaster, PA 17603

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Capitol Theater, Lancaster PA

Located on the site of the Hippodrome Theatre built in 1916, which replaced the 1910-built Hippodrome Theatre which was destroyed by fire. The second Hippodrome Theatre was also destroyed by fire on December 29, 1924.

The Capitol Theatre was opened on December 21, 1925 with Ramon Novarro in “The Midshipman”. Seating was listed at 1,161. It was equipped with a 4 manual, Robert Morton unit organ, which was opened by organist John Krupa. This theatre was later operated by Warner Bros. and their subsidiary’s.

The Capitol Theatre closed in 1965 and was later demolished.

Contributed by Chuck

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

Ross Care
Ross Care on November 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Dennis – As I’ve described elsewhere on CT, I had an apartment at 123 N. Queen St. (close by the Grand) and remained there for a good part of the notorious demolition. The night the wrecking ball struggled to knock down the sturdy old and resisting Brunswick Hotel was like something out of Fellini.
It was also painful deja vu for me, as I also lived through the razings of my favorite Harrisburg theaters, though not in such an abrupt and dramatic fashion.
I remember seeing the backstage trappings, curtains, drapes, glass chandeliers, still hanging in the theater (Capitol ?) on the corner.

It was very poignant and I’ve never forgotten those few weeks. And I hope Lancaster has not either (though I’m sure it has).
It was a pathetic, stupid waste of an entire cluster of classic theaters.

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on November 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Penway14 – The Colonial/Boyd Theatre was the one closest to the corner of Queen and Chestnut Streets. The Hippodrome/Capitol Theatre was closer to the middle of the block and almost across the street from the Grand Theatre. Although the demolition of this entire block was a total waste as you look at what is located there now. They are attempting to get funding to tear down what was built and build it back up to the main street it used to be! Do you call that our tax money at work?? I think the Capitol Theatre was the most palatial of all four theatres. The Colonial/Boyd was very nice, but did not have the large lobby and public areas that the Capitol had. Even the staircases were elegant. The Boyd just had a winding “hallway” with steps on each end to get you up and down to the balcony. I cannot imagine a fire marshall allowing such construction today. Granted there was exit doors from the balcony onto fire escapes. I remember when they started demolishing the Capitol the contractor said there was enough steel in the building and balcony to build a battle ship. They also discovered there was a well under the theatre which they used for the water for the central air conditioning. They saved on their water bill and the sewer bill was less as that was/is based on how much water you use. Well, I could go on, but enough for now. I know they sold the seats from the Capitol Theatre – at least. I wanted to buy a pair – they were sold in two’s, but my parents would not allow me to bring them into the house. They said they could not imagine how many bugs would have been in the upholstery!!! I did manage to obtain a “pull” sign from a front door of the Capitol and a “Coming Soon” placard from a poster display case from the Boyd.

Ross Care
Ross Care on November 3, 2010 at 6:18 am

Dennis – As I recall they tore down a major section of the “new” second block, where the Capitol had been, a few years after they put it up. And then the whole thing was redone sometime after that. It was an on-going mess and apparently still is.
It changed so often I hardly remember what was there when I left Lancaster about fifteen years ago.
I remember originally there was a lot of concrete, elevated walkways, stairs, a fountain, etc.
The businesses on the Grand/my side of Queen never really took off. A Hess’s (?) department store was there for awhile. There was a theater that had a great wide screen – I saw DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER there about six times. But it was eventually twinned. It was on the second level and there was an escalator up to it.
But you probably know all this already.
I do appreciate your comments on the other theaters. They were not there long enough for them to be implanted in my memory like the Harrisburg theaters were. I remember the Capitol was rather ornate with a kind of lobby balcony that led to the theater balcony. Sort of Spanish themed?
I don’t know why I did not take photos of these theaters. I was just out of college and was going pretty wild at the time.
Do you know when the Hamilton closed?

dennisczimmerman
dennisczimmerman on December 3, 2010 at 5:20 am

Penway – The concrete monstrosities lasted for many years after they were finally built. You are right that the business on the right side of the street did not last too long. The Eric Theatre was located on that side as well. It was a nice theatre until they twinned it. Then Sameric Corporation left it slide into disrepair. I remember for years seeing what looked like someone drew lines on the screen. The problem was they were so quick to tear everything down, but had no plans for what they were going to do. So Lancaster had a giant mud hole for at least a year or longer. Then they got Hess department store to sign a lease for a building being built and they built a “new” Brunswick hotel and then had the shop and office promenade connecting the two buildings. It was only afer the former Hamilton Bank and Armstrong World Industries decided to build their Lancaster headquarters downtown that the left side of the street finally got built. Within the last few years, they tore down the promenade area in the hopes to attract a developer to do something new and make it look like what they tore down in the 1960’s. Lancaster had a mayor back then that sold the city to some New York developer that promised him the world with a fence around it. As far as the Hamilton goes, I do not remember it being open at all. I was born in 1947 so I would probably remember back to the early 1950’s. I just remember being downtown in the late 1950’s and walking past the Hamilton and seeing the signs for the Hamilton Bar which was in the lobby. Well, I have ranted on long enough for now.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm

The July 26, 1910, opening of Lancaster’s original Hippodrome Theatre, which burned and was replaced by this house in 1916, was noted in the August 20, 1910 issue of The Film Index.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 14, 2015 at 10:12 pm

The Capitol Theatre was designed by architect William Harold Lee, and opened on December 21, 1925. This information is from an article in a 1965 issue of The Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society (PDF here) about the Lancaster theaters operated by the Krupa family in the early 20th century, written by George and Elsie Krupa’s daughter, Catherine Krupa.

The article reveals that the Hippodrome Theatre, which the Krupas began operating in 1912, was destroyed by a fire on December 29, 1924. The house was only days from reopening after undergoing a major remodeling, and was to have been renamed the Aldine Theatre, when it burned to the ground. The Capitol was an entirely new theater built on the Hippodrome’s site.

One notable feature of the new Capitol was a four-rank Robert Morton organ. Ms. Krupa devotes a considerable part of the article to this instrument, having been one of the theater’s organists herself. In 1926, the Krupas sold the Capitol, and the nearby Hamilton Theatre, which they had acquired in 1916, to the Stanley Company.

Ross Care
Ross Care on January 15, 2015 at 2:58 am

Joe – Thanks for the article. I can’t wait to read it.

I may have mentioned elsewhere, I was still living in an apartment beside the Grand when the demolition began. The destruction of the old Brunswick was spectacular (and depressing).

rivest266
rivest266 on June 1, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Opened as Hippodrome on July 23rd, 1910. Ad uploaded. No grand opening was found for the 1916 rebuilding.

rivest266
rivest266 on June 2, 2019 at 9:06 pm

The Capitol and the Boyd theatres closed in 1965.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater