Capitol Theatre

316 Monroe Street,
Passaic, NJ 07055

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September 1978

Viewing: Photo | Street View

I know little about this theatre except that it was quite large, with all of its 3,200 seats on one floor. While the Capitol Theatre was being built in 1926, the owners ran out of money and were unable to include stage facilities, so the movie screen was erected flat against the auditorium’s back wall. By 1941, the Capitol Theatre was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.

Many decades later, the lack of a stage became a problem when a rock promoter took over the Capitol Theatre and had to build not only a stage, but dressing rooms and other facilities, which he accomplished by buying an adjacent building. To earn more money, the promoter used the Capitol Theatre for rock concerts at night, and ran XXX movies during the day.

The Capitol Theatre closed in 1986, and was put up for sale. Soon afterwards, it suffered from a fire and was demolished.

Contributed by Warren G. Harris

Recent comments (view all 153 comments)

EcRocker
EcRocker on March 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Wow it’s been that long since I have been to this page. Stu 62 mentions See Factor doing sound. Maybe i am getting on in years and to many brain cells have died out but I do not recall Bob See and See Factor doing audio for gigs till some time in the lat e 70’s and early 80’s. I was just on the See Factor site and from what i see they do very little in the audio field now.
So can someone verify that See Factor did sound back then

I did go to a show at the Central one night after a show at the Capitol and I don’t recall who was doing sound but Ric-Lo was doing the lights.

What a long strange trip it’s been.

And since I am in here
I have started a group on Facebook dedicated to the NY Academy of Music.
Feel free to join in talk about your memories. Post your links and pictures too

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=346585061938

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

The name of the architect is currently misspelled above. Note CT user Passaic’s comment of March 4, 2007. Boxoffice mentions Abe Preiskel a few times (and once misspells his name as Preskill.) The magazine never mentions him as an architect but only as a theater operator. Passaic’s comment also attributes the design of the Montauk Theatre to Preiskel.

This 1916 book attributes the design of a proposed (but as yet unnamed) theater to be built at Lexington and Main Avenues to Abraham Preiskel. I wonder if that project could have been the theater listed at CT as the Fine Arts? A 1985 Rutherford News-Leader article attributes the design of that city’s Rivoli Theatre (listed here as the George W. Newman Theatre) to Preiskel.

I’ve found a number of references to Preiskel on the Internet, but with different first names. Boxoffice most often refers to him by the diminutive “Abe,” but other usually sources say either Abraham or Abram, with Abram being somewhat more frequent. I think Abram Preiskel is probably the correct form of his name.

roscomouse
roscomouse on March 14, 2010 at 8:16 am

Regarding the architect, I mentioned earlier on this page that I have an undated reverse sepia longitudinal section by Abraham Preiskill and an older, original blueprint of the proscenium arch by C.A. Sandblom, Architect, 19 West 45th Street in Manhattan. I also have a blueline print of the alarm system by E.P. Reid, Inc. These prints may have been some of the prints that Rosie mentioned somewhere above. If I understand Joe Vogel correctly, Preiskel’s name is on the sepia print as the manager rather than the architect. I’ve never scene an architectural print with the buyer or manager’s name instead of the architect’s name. Both for sure, but if it’s only one it would be the architect. So where does Sandblom fit in?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 14, 2010 at 10:19 pm

There is a biographical sketch of Abram Preiskel in a 1922 book called “History of Passaic and Its Environs” by William Winfield Scott (it can be read online at Internet Archive or Open Library.) It says that Preiskel studied civil engineering and architecture at the University of Michigan, and established his practice at Passaic in 1910 upon being certified as an architect by the State of New Jersey. The book also said that, as of 1922, “…he is engaged in specializing in the construction of theater buildings.”

I haven’t found any items in Boxoffice specifically naming Abe Preiskel as a theater manager, but he was a co-owner of the Capitol (with Harry Hecht) at least during part of the 1930s, and later a co-owner of the Central (with John Ackerman) when it first opened in 1941. He was also co-owner (with Hecht) of the Rivoli in Rutherford for some time. Hecht and Ackerman appear to have been the partners directly involved in management.

As for Charles Sandblom’s work on the Capitol, I’ve been unable to find anything about it from any of the sources available on the Internet.

roscomouse
roscomouse on March 15, 2010 at 4:48 am

Sepia prints were usually copies of bluelines and postdate blue prints, which would make my Sandblom blueprint of the proscenium older than Preiskel’s longitudinal drawing. The drawing is accurate from my recollection of the building while I worked there from 1971 through 1986. So Sandblom must have been involved right at the beginning. Perhaps Preiskel had some sort of business arrangement with Sandblom’s office in NYC, drafting for instance. Or, perhaps, Sandblom had some special expertise that Preiskel wanted or needed or Sandblom was originally commissioned to design the theatre before Preiskel took over. I do not have easy access to my prints right now, but I believe that Sandblom’s drawing is significantly more elegant than the actual theatre was. Unfortunately these three prints are the only drawings that I have.

I believe that we had a staff theatre buff when I worked there. He may have acquired the prints from Dick Carroll mentioned somewhere above on this page, or know what became of them. He may also still be employed by John Scher, so I’ll make an inquiry and let you know what happens. This mystery is intriguing. Though the Capitol was by no means a spectacular theatre, it was definitely different.

gd14lawn
gd14lawn on May 3, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Some of the audio recordings and one video are avilable at:

http://www.wolfgangsvault.com/concerts/

kittykat1234
kittykat1234 on July 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

I used to live in Rutherford, actually had my HS graduation at the Rivoli Theatre (1971,Rutherford High) But I had worked across the street from the Capitiol (IN PASSAIC) during my senior year and for about 7 years after at the “TREASURE TROVE” Head shop. As a young teenage girl, I used to HATE walking past he “Montauk” theatre(anyone remember that?) which at the time was showing porno flicks. I’M LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO REMEMBER THE TREASURE TROVE, IT WAS ABOUT 3 OR 4 STORES PAST THE MONTAUK.

nolanfinb
nolanfinb on September 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

I had to sign up to answer kittykat … I was Googling “who remembers the Treasure Trove in downtown Passaic?” so I got this hit. I grew up in Clifton (graduated 1974)and we always went to The Treasure Trove in downtown Passaic. That was the coolest store we knew. You would have been working there when I was just a patron. I also remember a great small shoe store that was close to it, maybe even next door or right around the block. We used to buy our funky platform shoes there to wear with our skinny jeans when they came out. My first concert at The Capitol Theatre was Alice Cooper with his “Dead Babies” Tour. I do remember how creepy the Montauk Theatre was to have to walk past. Passaic was just starting to go downhill during that point in time. I remember a couple times having to run home after concerts from The Capitol Theatre, we were too young to drive then.

bolorkay
bolorkay on June 9, 2013 at 3:49 am

Hi, Perhaps I haven’t read through all the posts here yet, but I was wondering is there an archive that might provide a chronological list of the groups and musicians who played the Capitol through the years? Pictures of posters?

roscomouse
roscomouse on June 9, 2013 at 7:22 am

You will find the best available chronological list of concerts on this page, http://www.moyssi.com/capitolshows.htm

There are some interesting photos and plans here: http://www.moyssi.com/capitol.htm if you follow the links at the bottom of the page.

If you explore the whole site you will find concert programs, posters and other interesting things.

Unfortunately, I have not had the time to develop and expand the site yet, but that too will come.

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