Capitol Theatre

1418 Acushnet Avenue,
New Bedford, MA 02746

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This theatre has been closed for many decades. The auditorium seems intact, with the former lobby area used as commercial space.

Contributed by Gerald A. DeLuca

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

KenRoe
KenRoe on April 7, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Film Daily Yearbook’s 1941 and 1943 give a seating capacity of 1,400 and the operator being Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary Mullins & Pinanski.

The 1950 edition of F.D.Y. gives a seating capacity of 1,000.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on April 9, 2005 at 4:33 am

The address was 1418 Acushnet Avenue, according to the New Bedford City Directory of 1952.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 6, 2006 at 4:02 pm

The MGM Theatre Photograph and Report form for the Capitol in New Bedford says that it’s on “Asushmet Street” (he must have stopped off at a local pub before going out to do the report). The little photo is definitely of the same building as in the color photo posted above by Gerry Deluca on April 7 2005. The theatre entrance was at the far right end of that building, right next to the wood-frame house. There was an impressive marquee. “High Sierra” and “Federal Fugitives” where playing when the photo was taken in May 1941. The Report states that the Capitol has been playing MGM product for over 10 years; that the house is over 15 years old, and is in Fair condition; and that it has 1400 seats, apparently all on one floor ??

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2007 at 12:25 pm

From the 1990s (?) booklet The Avenue – Memories of Acushnet Avenue, by Carmen Maiocco:

One of my friends tells a funny story about the Capitol Theater. When he was a young fellow in the 1960s, he went there to see a double feature: Way Way Out * with Anita Ekberg, and The Fantastic Voyage with Raquel Welch. Noting that both these starlets were voluptuous women, he says he remembers that night’s cinematic experience as “an evening of booberama.” The Capitol Theater was erected in 1920 as part of a block-long structure created by the development team of Allen-Charette, who emblazoned their names for posterity on the brick facade just below the roof-line. The name Capitol is also still etched in stone above what used to be the theater entrance, although the glittering marquee is long gone. Built on the site of the Old Timothy Coffin estate, the Capitol passsed through the hands of numerous owners, including the Zeitz family of Zeiterion fame. One lady remembers a dapper gentleman named Butch at the Capitol, a short man in a soft hat who did double duty as usher and ticket taker. By the late 1960s, the films being shown at the Capitol got a little ragged, such as one high-browed offering entitled I Spit on Your Grave. In the 1970s there were rock concerts and other special events. Sometime around 1980, the lights came down at the Capitol Theater for the final time.*

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 22, 2007 at 12:42 pm

1959 photo of the Capitol Theater when it was showing The Five Pennies and Tokyo After Dark.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm

The Theatre Historical Society listing for the Capitol in New Bedford, compiled by member Barry Goodkin, states that it opened on Nov. 29, 1920, designed by Labrode & Pullard, with 1000 seats.

rickdias
rickdias on September 17, 2009 at 1:21 am

Pleasant memories…

I used to go to the Capitol Theater in New Bedford’s North End in the 50’s and early 60’s.

Then the Capitol featured two continuous movies and five Looney Tunes cartoons. The admission was 12 cents on Saturday and 25 cents on Sunday. It was a very popular pastime for the kids.

Candy Bars were 5 cents and Popcorn was 10 cents. We had a 5 cent bottle Coke machine until someone threw an empty bottle. The kids from our neighborhood pretty much “owned” the right front theater seating and everyone just knew that. Our friends always hung out together.

Butch was the ticket man. He dressed in the sharp red traditional theater uniform and hat. But Harold was the usher and he never failed to annoy us with his flashlight. One day he annoyed someone a little too much and the customer just happened to know the theater owners. There was a complaint made. Harold was more than likely given a “talking to” by the owners. After that, Harold was a little more courteous with us during his patrols. But some said he had taken ill.

Around the 1970’s a New Bedford Standard Times Newspaper writer featured a story in which he colorfully depicted how “I Was A Saturday Afternoon Cowboy at the Capitol Theater.”

He captured the moment and how he enjoyed the double continuous feature Western movies and bonus five cartoons. Then he colorfully depicted how on the way home he and his friends rode stick horses and galloped in and out of the New Bedford, Acushnet Avenue’s store front doorways.

He colorfully depicted his Capitol Movie Theater childhood days and now mine.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Photos of the Capitol and other New Bedford theatres can be seen in this great set:
View link

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm

The Capitol is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1400 seats and open daily.

AlanHemenway
AlanHemenway on May 31, 2011 at 9:35 pm

My father, Gilbert Hemenway, was a projectionist at many of the New Bedford area theaters, starting at the Allen Theater where he and his brother George were trained by their brother Floyd to be projectionists. In those days you had to study electronics and get a license to be a projectionist. Union contracts specified a 2-man booth, as the projection rooms were called. My father started as a ticket-taker and usher and thats how my mother met him. In New Bedford they were the Capitol, Empire, New Bedford, Orpheum, Dartmouth Drive-In, and Fairhaven Drive-In. In Fall River it was the Plaza and the Embassy – and there was the Newport Theater which I cant find in the RI listings; it was across the street from another theater in Newport. In about 1948 when I was about 5 year old, my mother and I would go to the Dartmouth Drive-In in our Chevy Coupe and I would sleep on the shelf in the back. Before I was born my father worked other theaters. I think one was the Keith in North Fairhaven.

At the Capital Theatre, I remember Butch taking tickets. I didn’t have to give him a ticket because my father was a projectionist there. Butch always called me Donald. When I called him on it he said that I looked like a Donald. I lived at 254 Coffin Avenue, near the bakery. On the Saturday matinee they made all the kids sit up front and I hated that because of all the noise the kids made. Smoking was in the mens room – you could hardly breath in there because of the smoke. Next door was the Capital Candy Shop and there was a side door from the theater by which you could enter. They had a sundae for 20 cents with peach melba in grenadine syrup and hot marshmallow on top. It was called a Buffalo Tip.

With the advent of television and theaters going dark, toward the end, and found some work with the Fall River Local. When the Fairhaven Drive-In opened, there wasnt a speaker in the projection booth so that the projectionist could hear. My father took a ramp speaker and ran a wire up along the ceiling to the amplifier. In 1990 I went there and noticed his speaker. I now have it, as a momento of my father. I was amazed at the equipment that was still not vandalized. The same with the Dartmouth Drive-In and the Westport Drive-In. I took the reel of film that they used to announce intermission time.

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