Our seventh venue visit on 2013′s Conclave Theatre Tour will be to:
220 W. Dominick Street, Rome, N.Y.
OPENED: December 10, 1928
ARCHITECT: Leon H. Lempert
CAPACITY: 2,000 (original), 1,788 (current)
The Capitol Theatre opened as part of the locally owned Kallet Chain in 1928. Construction began in March of that year with opening night just nine months later on December 10th. The program included the First National feature, Lilac Time, starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper. An impressive seven-rank Möller theatre organ also premiered that night.
Originally designed with a Spanish-Moroccan theme, the eleven-year-old Capitol received a modernistic face-lift in 1939 and retains most of that architectural detail to the present. High overhead costs forced the Capitol to close as a first-run movie house in 1974 with the final attraction being The Exorcist. Cinema National leased the theater until February of 1989, but kept the theater dark to prevent competition with its multiplex in town.
Over the next eleven years the Capitol saw occasional live events but threats of demolition always loomed. A dedicated group of individuals organized and in 1985 the newly christened “Capitol Civic Center” opened as a not-for-profit corporation. A grand re-opening was held on December 10, 1985, the 57th anniversary of the theater’s grand opening. In keeping with tradition, the feature was Lilac Time.
The full-sized stage and orchestra pit allows the Capitol to offer a wide variety of touring and locally produced events. In 1989, the Capitol’s own SummerStage debuted with Annie. A series of live theatrical productions continue to this day.
In 2003, the Capitol’s original Möller theatre organ was finally restored and the following year a series of silent films with organ accompaniment was initiated. World-renown silent movie musicians such as Dr. Philip C. Carli, Avery Tunningley, Bernie Anderson, Dennis James, and Robert Israel have accompanied movies from the console. The Capitol’s 1952 projectors continue to serve their purpose well, and in 2007 a pair of mint-condition, water-cooled 1965 Ashcraft carbon arc lamps were added, making the Capitol a prime destination for classic movie lovers.
Today, there are over 100 performances per year at the Capitol including stage productions, dance, touring acts and, of course, silent and sound film. In 2002, the Capitolfest film festival was launched and quickly became a premiere event on the East Coast. Thanks in part to Capitolfest, the theater now attracts patrons not only from Upstate New York, but also from all over the world.
THS friends and members Art and Kylie Pierce act as Executive Director and Development Director, respectively. All operations are under the watchful eye of Official Feline Ambassador, Kallie, the theatre cat.
WHY ARE WE SEEING IT?
Excellent example of Lempert design work. They have strong community support and a major capital campaign in full swing.
Register for the 2013 Conclave Theatre Tour online.
(Portions of text are courtesy of the Capitol Theater website. )