Capitol Theatre

205 East College Street,
Iowa City, IA 52240

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The Pastime Theatre opened in 1912. It is listed in a 1922 Iowa City street directory. The name was changed to the Capitol Theatre around 1947. The Capitol Theatre is listed in the 1954 Film Daily Yearbook with 350 seats.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

On page 250 of Rick Altman’s book Silent Film Sound is this line: “In 1912, Fred E. Dever, owner of the new Pastime in Iowa City, added a 1912 Powers No. 6 projector to his 1911 Motiograph.”

Fred Dever, operator of the Pastime Theatre in Iowa City, was mentioned in the March 4, 1911, issue of The New York Clipper as the inventor of a gold screen for moving picture theaters, and he was organizing a stock company to establish a manufacturing plant for it.

The December 11 issue of The New York Dramatic Mirror that same year had this item:

“Archie Hanlon has leased the Pastime Theatre, in Iowa City. Ia., taking possession Jan. 1. At the same time Fred Dever will open a new house for motion Pictures built by Dunkel Brothers at a cost of over $6,000.”
Mr. Hanlon must have operated the old Pastime under a new name, because an article in the January 19, 1912, issue of the Iowa City Press-Citizen indicates that Fred Dever took the theater name with him when he opened his new house"
“Fred E. Dever, the popular and experienced moving picture man, will dedicate his elegant new theatre, the Pastime Picture Palace, nearly opposite the Daily Press office, on College street, on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 20.”
It was probably the 1912 Pastime Theatre that later became the Capitol. An item about the groundbreaking for the new Pastime in October, 1911, had given the location as College Street near the intersection with Dubuque, which is where 205 E. College is. The entire block has been obliterated for redevelopment, so the Capitol can be marked as demolished.

There was apparently a renovation of the theater in the early 1920s, as the ads for it begin calling it the New Pastime Theatre around then. In 1926, the Press-Citizen mentions “…the new Pastime $30,000 All American Concert Grand Organ….”

A “lost and found” ad in the December 30, 1946 issue of the Press-Citizen is the latest mention of the Pastime Theatre I’ve found. The April 17, 1947, issue has the earliest mention of the Capitol I’ve found, so the name must have been changed in early 1947.

dallasmovietheaters on September 4, 2015 at 3:55 am

The Pastime Theatre — Fred E. Dever’s Motion Picture Palace – launched January 20, 1912 with a reported 1,670 people watching “Little Boy Blue” and “Parting of the Ways”. But Albert C. “Punch” Dunkel guided the theatre through its halcyon days with three different organs, installing radio equipment using the call letters KFBG to broadcast news — which was apparently news to the FCC which closed the station — and transitioning the Pastime to sound. Ray Lumsden (1938) followed by Fred McGee (1945) and finally Earnest Panos (1946) operated the Pastime.

Panos —on January 16, 1947 — changed the name of the theatre to the Capitol Theatre launching with “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “I Married a Witch.” The decades' old KFBG radio equipment was still under the stage of the old Pastime. Panos would try foreign language films soon thereafter but abandoned that policy. The theatre eked it out to its 50th anniversary before closing and was demolished.

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