World War I ‘Wall of Honor’ Discovered Under Capitol Theatre Plaster
By Jared Leone | Published by Clearwater.patch.com
April 10, 2013
The names appear clearly enough through the nearly 100-year-old paint.
Rudolph Petree. Newlan C. Plumb. Grover and Aubrey McMullen. John B. Stetson.
The powerful and pioneering family names appeared as the plaster was removed inside the Capitol Theatre this week, revealing a “Wall of Honor” listing names of residents who served in various military branches during World War I, according to Clearwater historians.
“This was completely unexpected,” said Katie Pedretty, spokeswoman at Ruth Eckerd Hall, who is undertaking the renovation project of the more than 90-year-old theater in partnership with the city.
The discovery Tuesday has planners scrambling to figure out a way to preserve and incorporate the nearly 20-foot-tall wall into restoration plans.
The Capitol Theatre closed in March so work could begin to restore its Mediterranean Revival look and expand its space. It will feature seating for 655, a rooftop terrace and wraparound balcony when it reopens in the fall.
The Lokey building, which was one of the city’s oldest structures, was demolished as part of the plans to expand, renovate and rehabilitate the space.
The 1914 structure was originally going to be part of the Capitol’s renovation. Officials decided the building wasn’t sturdy enough for the expansion, so city leaders removed its historic designation in order for it to be destroyed.
The more recent name comes from a local businesswoman who owned a high-end women’s clothing shop there through the 1990s.
Before that, it was home to the Clearwater Evening Sun newspaper.
The carefully stenciled, alphabetized list of names was uncovered inside one of the state’s oldest movie theaters.
The names, protected in plaster for 90 years, are, for the most part, legible because they were covered for so long.
Although not fully revealed, there are several rows of alphabetized names under what appear to be the words “Wall of Honor.” Right now only J through Z can be seen. The names belong to residents who served in various military branches during World War I, according to military service cards in state records and Bill Wallace, a past president of the Clearwater Historical Society.