159 S. Main Street,
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Capitol Theatre, Chambersburg (Official)
Architects: Maurice R. Rhoads
Functions: Community Arts Center, Live Performances, Movies (Classic), Special Events
Styles: Spanish Colonial
News About This Theater
- Oct 24, 2008 — Capitol Theatre a mainstay of downtown
- Sep 4, 2006 — Capitol Theatre returns
Opened on February 3, 1927 with Norma Shearer in “The Waning Sex”. Rhis gem of a theatre has never been closed, except for a brief period in 1945 and again in 2002, for redecorating and renovations. Still proudly playing in the orchestra pit is the original Moller Theater Pipe Organ, which was totally rebuilt and enlarged in the 1990’s.
Purchased by my wife and I in 1980, to save it from demolition, we continued as a first-run movie house until August of 1985 when, because of a multiplex just built around the corner, we were unable to compete. Chosing our first love, live stage. With the encouragement and help of the local Community Theater group, it all happened and ever since has been the venue for acts, big and small, big names and unknowns.
In 1996, the Chamber of Commerce offered to purchase it from us, with the plans to greatly improve the building. As a non-profit, they were able to raise millions of dollars, greatly expand and improve the building, and continue to bring live performance to the community.
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Recent comments (view all 7 comments)
I can remember every movie I saw as a kid at The Capitol. I was fascinated by watching the big chandelier being dimmed prior to a show. My mother took my sister and I every year to the AAA members night. I think they always showed “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” with Jimmy Stewart.
It is great to be able to attend the wonderful plays and concerts that are given there today. I’d love to hear the Moeller organ again.
Article published Jun 15, 2005
Capitol Theatre grants work contract
By MATT KASPER
Construction on the Capitol Theatre ceiling is expected to take three to five months, or perhaps longer, said Downtown Chambersburg Inc. President Paul Cullinane.
Following weeks of uncertainty about the ceiling restoration, board members of DCI on Tuesday granted a construction contract to Novinger’s Inc., Middletown.
The total cost of the ceiling restoration is expected to be $315,000.
Construction is expected to begin this week. In addition to removing and replacing about 4,000 square feet of the 8,500 square-foot ceiling, the remaining 4,500 square feet â€" above and below the balcony and above and below the mezzanine â€" will be reattached and repaired, according to Steven Powers, the director of sales at Novinger’s.
Portions of the walls inside the theater will be inspected and plastered, if necessary, he said.
“We are going to do a complete replacement of the auditorium ceiling,” Cullinane said.
“How long it takes is really
hard to say,“ he said. "We’re not driving anyone toward a deadline.”
Linda Boeckman, theater operations manager, said no new shows have been scheduled for 2005 and the remaining shows have been relocated.
The theater at 159 S. Main St. has been closed since April 30 when a 4- by 10-foot section of plaster fell during a Saturday night performance.
A press conference is scheduled for today to introduce Novinger’s and announce that a $250,000 gift from the estate of Cora Grove will go toward the ceiling restoration, among other updates about the project.
Despite a $550,000 construction debt prior to the ceiling collapse, Cullinane said the contract was not awarded to the lowest bidder because public safety was the biggest concern for the board.
Novinger’s experience working on previous restoration projects, including being the plastering subcontractor on the Capitol building in Harrisburg and the Hershey Theatre, he said, convinced the board the company was the most qualified to do the restoration.
“Other contractors recommended Novinger’s,” he said.
Cullinane also said Novinger’s suggested approach of cutting portions of the ceiling into smaller sections to minimize dust and debris during the removal phase, went over well.
Waste Management of Chambersburg has donated trash bins for the construction project, he said, noting that the free services would be a “huge cost savings” on the project.
In the next two weeks, scaffolding will go up inside the theater.
A search for a painting contractor is under way, Cullinane said.
Besides a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling, “(theater-goers) won’t be able to tell the difference when it’s all said and done,” Boeckman said.
“It is a tragedy because people were injured and a historic theater lost its ceiling,” she said.
Additionally, the ceiling collapse made some theater-goers question safety.
Nevertheless, she said: “The reality is, when it opens, those questions won’t be there anymore.”
Nice to know that this theatre has never closed and that it still has its original orchestra pit and organ!
Lost Memory: Thanks for this photo as I went through Chambersburg Pa 2 years ago enroute to Gettysburg and since I wasn’t driving we didn’t go down main street past this theatre…will the next time though!
Hmmm…The Capitol looks like a nice, old-fashioned theatre, with the ticket booth in the center of the entrance and all.
This item is from the “Theatres in Construction” column of Variety, May 5, 1926:This history of the Capitol from the theater’s web site says that it was built for a Pottstown theater company, and that a local architect was hired to design it. The location is right for the Capitol, too, so it is very likely that the Variety item is about the Capitol.
Local architect Maurice R. Rhoads also drew the plans for the remodeling of the Rosedale Opera House in Chambersburg into the Rosedale Theatre in 1920. Rhoads died in 1926, but I haven’t been able to find out how early in the year. As the Capitol did not open until February, 1927, it is possible that some other architect was brought in to complete the project.
This opened on February 3rd, 1927. Ad below: Capitol theater opening Wed, Feb 2, 1927 – 5 · Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com