Capitol Theatre

328 North Street,
Pittsfield, MA

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Capitol Theatre Marquee - October 2010

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened in the 1920s, the Capitol Theatre was a major downtown first-run theater in Pittsfield for six decades until it closed in the 1980s.

According to current reports, the facade, entry and marquee still stand but are now the entryway to a parking lot.

Contributed by Dr. Russ Durocher

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 2, 2007 at 3:50 pm

The Capitol in Pittsfield was included in the MGM Theatre Photograph and Report project. There is an exterior photo dated May 1941. The marquee is the same as that in the color photo posted by Gerald DeLuca on April 1 2005. There was a vertical blade sign above. A movie with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck is posted on the marquee. The Report states that the Capitol is located at 326 North St., that it has been presenting MGM product for over 10 years; that it’s over 15 years old and in Good condition. The seating: 1002 in the orchestra; 224 in the balcony, and 112 in the loges; total: 1,338 seats. There were 7 movie theatres in Pittsfield in 1941.

kencmcintyre on February 10, 2007 at 12:48 am

This is from the Berkshire Eagle, 10/9/59:

Firemen Fail To Find Fire at Theater Showing “Face of Fire”

Firemen were called to the Capitol Theater last night during a performance of “The Face of Fire.” The alarm was not for a fire, but for an unexplainable odor that was corning from the projection booth. Firemen quickly searched the building. They discovered that the mysterious odor was coming out of the kitchen exhaust duct of the China Clipper restaurant next door and was entering the projection booth through an open window Some sort of fish was cooking, they reported.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on July 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

The marquee shown in ken mc’s 1986 photo is the same one that was on the Capitol in the May 1941 photo on the MGM Theatre Report.

kencmcintyre on July 13, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Here is an excerpt from the North Adams Transcript on 3/24/42:

An early morning, two-alarm fire today caused damage estimated at $75,000 to the Capitol theater in Pittsfield, located in the heart of the business district on North street and leased by the Western Massachusetts theaters, Inc., which operates the Paramount and Richmond theaters in North Adams. The fire, which was confined entirely to the interior of the theater by Pittsfield firemen who played five lines of hose on the flames, was discovered at 12:55 o'clock by Raymond Jackson, one of two men employed at night there.

Jackson had a narrow escape from being trapped by the flames in a dressing room off the stage. He was forced to make his way to safety down a spiral metal stairway to the stage. When Jackson discovered the fire, four plush velvet curtains in the stage were burning. He was in the dressing room changing his clothes at the time. After reaching the stage, he put in the call for the fire department and 10 minutes later at 1:05 o'clock a second alarm was sounded bringing more men and apparatus.

According to Fire Chief Thomas F. Burke, the velvet curtains served as a good base for the flames which spread into the auditorium where they destroyed 20 rows of seats and also mushroomed along the ceiling to the balcony where 20 more rows of seats were destroyed. The stage, a large pipe organ and the stage end of the theater, including the back stage, screen and drapes, were entirely burned out.

Edward Dowllng is manager of the theater. He is a former district manager for the Western Massachusetts company and the two theaters in this city operated by the company were in his area. The Capitol is owned by the Berkshire County Savings Bank.

kencmcintyre on July 13, 2009 at 8:47 pm

There are some photos of the Capitol on this site:

shoeshoe14 on August 26, 2009 at 1:24 am

Passed by the theater 2 weeks ago on a bike trip and saw a worker outside sprucing up the marquee. The marquee said, “Governor Swearing-In of” elected official.

PPhair on March 1, 2010 at 4:24 am

The Capitol was one of the two main theaters in Pittsfield when I was growing up there. It was gigantic with a huge auditorium, and large balcony. The inside was classic old theater style. The screen was gigantic and there was not a bad seat in the house. The Balcony was reached by staircases on either side of the lobby. The restrooms were in the basement. I have fond memories of seeing so many great films there as a young child. All of the Disney classics and many more. It is such a shame that it was allowed to deteriorate.

jaboschen on May 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

The library of Congress has apparently re-scanned and made High Resolution scans of their photographs of the Capitol Theater. These scans, which are Tiff images each about 20MB big, really let you blow up the image and see a lot of the architectural features (and deterioration) present in the building; something that was difficult to see in the previous JPEG images they had. Well worth a look!! Check the out:

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2014 at 11:56 pm

Here is jacobschen’s link to the LOC photos of the Capitol Theatre in clickable form.

The December 22, 1923, issue of Exhibitors Trade Review had an article about the Capitol Theatre. The house occupied a former garage that was converted into a theater by architect Eugene De Rosa.

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