204 Massachusetts Avenue,
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The Capitol Theatre opened November 25, 1925, as a neighborhood movie house with 1,600 seats and a stage with dressing rooms for vaudeville. The vertical sign on the front of the building is now gone, but the main marquee remains from its heyday. By the early-1940’s it was operated by Paramount Picture Inc. through their subsidiary Mullins & Pinanski. In 1986 the grand lobby was restored. The lobby’s granite columns and gold leaf – hidden since the 1960’s behind faux wood paneling – are once again on view. The lobby is a popular place for children’s birthday places. Interesting murals decorate the mezzanine lobby. The Capitol Theatre was placed on the National Register in 1985.
In 1989, the Capitol Theatre was multiplexed into five screens, but each auditorium was decorated in the style of the original theater! Auditorium 1 has the original proscenium arch with its large movie screen, beautiful multi-colored plaster designs, organ grilles, surround sound and 315 seats. The organ was removed in the 1960’s.
As of 2007, auditorium 2 has 159 seats and auditoium 3 has 150 seats. Two auditoriums in the former balcony have stadium seating:auditorium 4 with 197 seats and auditorium 5 with 203 seats. Auditorium 6, with 97 seats was added on the site of the old stage in 1990 and is reported to be haunted! Many historic and current photographs, including of the auditoriums, can be viewed on the theatre’s website.
The current theatre operators pride themselves in offering affordable prices for tickets and concessions, lower than the prices in the multiplexes. In 2007, Capitol Theatre ticket prices ranged from $5 to $7. Baby friendly movies are shown (details on the website). ‘Family Friendly’ mainstream first run and arthouse movies are shown. This wonderful gem of a theatre remains a fun place to go in Arlington’s downtown.
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