Park I & II Theatre

3015 Washington Avenue,
Racine, WI 53405

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Capital Theater Racine, WI 1941.

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The Capitol Theatre was built in 1920 as a neighorhood vaudeville and movie theatre the interior was beautifully finished with ornate plasterwork and stenciling. A large indirectly light oval covers three quarters of the auditorium ceiling. The proscenium is decorated with plaster ropes flowers and twists. Two pipe chambers complete with false boxes are located on either side of the stage. At one time the theatre boasted a 2/8 Wurlitzer pipe organ.

Twinned in 1976, the organ was removed and much of the plaster work covered. Closed in 1986, it has since been allow to suffer much decay and water damage.

Contributed by Paul Grant

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

jpaye
jpaye on July 2, 2004 at 3:04 pm

Do you know if someone has been chose to do the restoration?

cscheller
cscheller on November 17, 2004 at 2:19 pm

I went to the movies at the Capitol when I was a kid. I think we saw Love Bug and Jungle Book when they first came out. I had worked at the Capitol during my high school days 1976-1977. The owner at the time was Frank? Carmichael – not sure on the spelling. He owned a theater in Kenosha and started publishing the Happenings magazine. I remember delivering those to various locations in West Racine. My main duty at the theater was janitor. I recall hauling the bags of popcorn and the soda canisters from Washington Ave up the entry way and then down the steep stairs into the basement. The projectionist once had me come upstairs and showed me the ornate lighting fixtures that were in between the original ceiling and the drop ceiling. Also, at one time, the fire marshall was about to shut down the operations because of all the junk “in the back”. Well, I was able to assist in cleaning out the area behind the twin screens …. what I saw back there was amazing. A stage area and rooms behind or under the stage. My dad later told me he had gone there as a boy to see vaudeville shows. I had been hoping someone would take on this project. I live in Houston, TX now but whenever I’m home I always stop by and peer into the windows. I did so this past July and it appeared work was going on in there but that it had been awhile. I’m sure there will be a good amount of interest in seeing this restored.

mp775
mp775 on July 25, 2006 at 7:55 am

Is this renovation work proceeding? The marquee is advertising judo classes, and the lobby appears to be full of old cash registers.

LouisRugani
LouisRugani on October 31, 2006 at 11:17 pm

A photo in the September 12th, 1987 Racine Journal Times shows the Capitol with the second, triangular Art Deco marquee and the original four-story vertical sign which was fully operational and in use until 1981. At the sign’s top was a capitol-like dome and twisted ropelike chasers down to the bottom, a real treat to see at night reminding all of the golden age of the great verticals.

The report said it was twinned in the fall of 1975 (270 seats/240 seats, each with a tiny screen) and was then sold to Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation in 1981 for $50,000. Marcus, for reasons of its own, then renamed the Capitol the “Park I & II”, and that’s when the vertical ‘Capitol’ sign was removed.
Marcus closed the theatre on Labor Day, 1987, admitting to poor business.
For six years a second-run house, Marcus did experiment with some first-run fare there in its final summer.

Broan
Broan on September 30, 2007 at 7:51 pm

Photos of this theater are HERE

LouRugani
LouRugani on February 8, 2008 at 9:58 am

The Capitol’s organ was relocated to a newer minimalist-styled playhouse built by a local amateur live-theater group on Northwestern Avenue.

lnckid
lnckid on April 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

I own a cinema in north WI and would love to help get the park going again. I grew up in the town and watched many movies there but I dont get back to Racine much anymore but I would if I could help get it going again. Who is working on the theatre still? Does anyone have a number and name of a contact? I went thru the park years ago when I was looking at theatres to buy. Last I heard the upstairs apts were being fixed up to rent out. Someone must know something up to date about the theatre. LMK please

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 14, 2010 at 8:50 pm

bet was a beautiful single screen theatre.

dwallen
dwallen on March 31, 2012 at 12:06 am

My Grandfather Max Krofta owned the Capital Theater, he also owned the Granada on the north side of Racine I never met Max, he died before I was born. My mother had several boxes of photos she guarded like gold, some I remember are of the Capital and Granada. If anyone is interested I will go through them and post them. Max also owned or managed the Abby in Milwaukee and perhaps the Milwaukee Granada.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 22, 2013 at 2:21 am

A list of theaters designed by the Milwaukee architectural firm of Dick & Bauer was published in the October 25, 1930, issue of Exhibitors Herald-World, and it lists the Capitol Theatre at Racine among their works. It’s possible that J. Mandor Matson was the supervising architect for the project, but he was apparently just beginning his career around 1920 when the Capitol was built (the earliest project I’ve seen attributed to him in the trade publications dates from 1922.)

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