Capitol Theatre

211 State Street,
Madison, WI 53703

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Circa 1938 print ad for the Capitol Theatre courtesy of Ted Okuda.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Capitol Theatre opened on 21st January 1928. It was first a Fox house, then later operated by RKO Stanley Warner.

In 1980 it became part of the Madison Civic Centre and was re-named Oscar Mayer theatre. It has now reverted back to its original name of ‘Capitol’.

Contributed by Graeme McBain

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on February 15, 2007 at 6:27 pm

I’m not sure how this could still be called the Capitol Theatre. After first being heavily modified when it became part of the Madison Civic Center and then further mangling as it was turned into part of the Madison Overture Center. The only way you can really tell it was ever the Capitol Theatre is from the interior of the auditorium and from the mangling they did converting it into part of the Overture, ripping out the seats under the balcony and turning it into a lobby, I’m not even sure you can tell it from that.

Very sad indeed.

tmsenzig
tmsenzig on April 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm

At least this theatre was retained; original plans for Overture called for the complete demolition of the Capitol Theatre.

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on April 18, 2007 at 7:16 pm

I honestly don’t think it would have mattered. There really is nothing left of the Capitol Theatre anyhow. Heck, I had gone to the Civic Center for years before I found out that there was actually another theatre in that spot previous to it being the Civic Center! There was nothing to really indicate it was an old theatre, to be honest. I’ve not been in it since becoming the Overture but I’m guessing it looks even less so now.

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on May 3, 2008 at 9:34 pm

That’s really about all that’s left of the Capitol Theatre…the facade.

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on July 18, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Well, it sort of looks like an old theatre in the auditorium, but its not the old theatre. Its a new auditorium pretty much built to look like an old theatre based off the old theatre that was once there.

Its sad, but oh well, I guess it could have been worse, they could have gutted and gave it the bland look.

ruricius
ruricius on March 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I’ve been carrying around about 15 of the original wall torch lights from the theatre for about 35 years now. In fact i just installed one today… still works (with a bit of WD40 to get the connections apart!). Ralph Mathisen UW ‘69, '73, '79

MiltonSmith
MiltonSmith on June 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I just saw this post. Ralph, is there any way you could post a picture of these wall torch lights? If not, could you e-mail me a pic?

LeslieB
LeslieB on January 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

In 1955, Ben Marcus bought the theatre. It had 2,250 seats. At that time, 2 stores occupied the first floor of the building. In 1956, he sold it to Stanley-Warner Theatres, which had been operating under a lease arrangement.

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