Capitol Theatre

405 Cleveland Street,
Clearwater, FL 33755

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current interior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened as the Capitol Theatre in 1921, it had a seating capacity of almost 1,000. It is the only opera house in Clearwater. It is known for having some of the best natural acoustics in the southeastern part of the United States.

Later renamed the Royalty Theatre, it could comfortably seat between 434 and 520 people. Interestingly, the theater’s seats (which come in six different sizes) are the same seats that were originally installed when the theater opened.

The Royalty Theatre underwent a complete restoration from May 1999 and re-opened in the summer of 2000 as a performing arts and cultural centre. It was purchased in 2009 by the city of Clearwater, together with the adjacent building and has reverted back to its original Capitol name. Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. is contracted with the city to manage, program and renovate the theatre.

The seating capacity is now reduced to 433, with space for 475 for an event. Progaming consists of independent and classic movies, live concerts which cover the spectrum from rock, blues, jazz, country to classical. Also presented is dance and plays, and the theatre is available for events.

In 2011, active fundraising is occurring for renovations which will bring back the 1920’s glory, while adding modern touches such as modern restrooms, dressing rooms, lighting, seating, sound and projection equipment and LEEDS certification.

Contributed by Tom Hoehn

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

teecee
teecee on February 15, 2005 at 6:50 pm

The Florida history website lists the opening date as 1924. It was also known as The Capital Theater.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on May 4, 2005 at 11:56 am

Listed in the Film Daily Yearbook,1950 edition, the Capitol Theatre had a seating capacity of 944. It was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary E.J. Sparks.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

Here is a 2002 article about a wave of theater closures in Clearwater:
http://tinyurl.com/ywxf9n

sruley
sruley on September 23, 2008 at 4:13 pm

The theatre was built by Senator-elect John S. Taylor (aka “Handsome Jack” Taylor or “Jack Taylor”), who also built the historical Rolyat Hotel in 1926 (current part of Stetson University Law School).

The contractor for the Capitol Theatre was father and son team John and Ivan Phillipoff who also built the Coachman Building (1916), the Roebling Estate in Bellaire, the original Pinellas County Courthouse, other historical homes which have been saved, and work at the Belleview Hotel.

Groundbreaking was Dec 6, 1920. It was damaged in a storm on Oct 26, 1921. (so it had been completed).

A Robert Morton Wicks Opus 415 Organ was installed in 1922.</li]

Donald Roebling was a frequent patron [/url], having his own double seat installed at the theatre.

The theatre was managed by various movie companies (EJ Sparks, Paramount, ABC-Southeastern Theatres, and Plitt Southern) where it played the most recent movies of the day. The theatre also offered vaudeville on Friday nights in the 1930s. Headliners included Sally Rand, Fred Stone and his daughter, and Lum and Abner (of radio).

The theatre was renovated in 1962. The Robert Morton Wicks Opus 415 was most likely removed during this rennovation.

When Plitt Southern did not renew their contact in 1979, Bill Neville and Jerry Strain tried to save the theatre with film classics and reduced prices. However, the theatre closed its doors on Oct 28, 1980.

Royalty Theater Company signed leases with the Taylor family in February 1981. From hereon, the theatre became known as the Royalty Theater. The building was renovated with (<a href Ron Winter of Winter Associates as the contractor and Scott Musheff as the architect).

During the renovations, Bill Neville’s murdered body was found in the balcony.

The theatre remained in the Taylor family estate until it was sold in 1996, when Socrates Charos took over the theatre.

In July 2008 the building went into foreclosure.

tbpirate
tbpirate on January 25, 2011 at 10:39 am

Hello,

I am the new manager of the Capitol Theatre.
I would appericate any photos of the interior of the theatre pre-Royalty. It would be incredible to have photos pre 1962. Ruth Eckerd Hall and the City are seeking to revamp the theatre to it’s 1920’s look. Any help would be welcomed.

Thank you

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