Filed Under Entertainment

Capitol Theatre

On April 8, 1921, the Capitol Theatre opened its doors to the public at the dedication of the Gordon Square Arcade and Community Building. Developed by the West Side Amusement Co. and Canadian motion picture theater promoters Jule and J.J. Allen, the theater began as a vaudeville and silent film house. During the surrounding neighborhood's prosperous years, the theater remained a centerpiece of Gordon Square. The arcade and theater slowly fell into disrepair, though, following the outmigration of both Cleveland residents and businesses following World War II.

In 1978, the parapet of the Gordon Square Arcade collapsed and damaged the marquis. Plans were quickly prepared for the demolition of the building. Although the building itself was spared through the efforts of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, the Capitol Theatre eventually closed down in 1985 due to years of deterioration. With the revival of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and the designation of the Gordon Square area as a cultural arts district, the theater was renovated and reopened in 2009. It is now owned by the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization and operated by the Cleveland Cinemas.

Video

Capitol Theatre; Weekends at the Capitol Theatre Donna Belles, a Detroit Shoreway resident, recounts her impressions of the Capitol Theatre as a child. Source: CSU Center for Public History + Digital Humanities

Audio

The Television of Its Day Frank Murphy, who grew up in what is now known as the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, remembers his trips to the Capitol Theatre as a child. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Images

Capitol Theatre Box Office Movie attendance in the United States began to steadily decline following 1946 as suburbanization scattered the audience away from urban centers and television increasingly became an available entertainment option for the public. The role of movie theaters as a recreational pastime and center for social activity further suffered over the last quarter century as movie watching transitioned into an experience that occurs at home rather than in a theater. The film industry has in part responded to these changes through the development of multiplex theaters and the introduction of new projection and audio technologies. Similarly, the renovation of the Capitol Theatre included the creation of multiple state of the art screening rooms in an effort to entice the public back into their seats. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
The Capitol Theatre, ca. 1940 The Capitol Theatre was developed and constructed as part of the Gordon Square Arcade in 1920-1921. This building, which cost $1,500,000 and took up an entire city block, housed the commercial and recreational needs of what is now the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The name of the theater was chosen as part of an opening promotion by the West Side Amusement Co. and the Allen Bros. Picked for the dignity carried by the name and the belief that the theater would be one of Cleveland's prominent vaudeville and film houses, Walter J. Bornitzke's submission of "The Capitol" won him a twenty-five dollar check. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
Remodeled Interior, ca. 2009 Reflective of residential and commercial renovations taking place throughout the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, the remodeled Capitol Theatre preserves the history of the building and community while simultaneously meeting the current economic and technological needs of a modern movie house. Although the theater has been divided into three auditoriums in order to draw a diverse audience, neoclassical architectural details and features such as wagon wheel lighting have been preserved in order to maintain the building's history and to give the theater a 1920s atmosphere. Photograph courtesy of Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
The Capitol Theatre Interior The Capitol was originally a 1,334 seat theater. During renovations for the 2009 reopening, the theater was remodeled into a three screen cinema. The 420 seat main screening room is now on the ground floor, whereas the balcony has been converted into two 96 seat auditoriums. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
The Capitol Theatre Renovation, ca. 2008 Battling extensive water damage and over eighty years of general deterioration, the Gordon Square Arts District began renovations of the Capitol Theatre in May of 2008. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
Capitol Theatre Reopening Gala, 2009 After sitting unused for more than two decades, the Capitol Theatre reopened its doors to the public on October 1, 2009. The 7.5 million dollar renovation project undertaken by the Gordon Square Arts District was planned to anchor and promote further development of a cultural arts district in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization

Location

1390 W 65th St, Cleveland, OH 44102

Metadata

Richard Raponi, “Capitol Theatre,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 8, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/152.