Capitol Arts Theatre

416 E. Main Street,
Bowling Green, KY 42101

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SethG on August 10, 2022 at 11:15 pm

The Capitol was not built until sometime after 1914. The two older buildings are still on that map, and the eastern one contains a movie theater. I don’t think the Capitol was constructed until 1921, and I don’t think it was ever the Columbia. I also don’t think the Columbia was the name of the theater appearing on the 1914 map, since that was in a pre-1886 storefront, not any newly constructed building.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 10, 2022 at 11:00 pm

The Columbia Theatre appears to have been a new build in 1911, not an old vaudeville theater or opera house, as some sources claim. The February 14, 1911 issue of The Nickelodeon announced the plans for the house “…to be located in the new Rabold Building….” by the Columbia Theater Company, already operators of 14 theaters in various regions.

I’ve been unable to discover if Tony Sudekum’s Crescent Amusement Company took over the project from Columbia before or after the house opened, but Crescent was definitely in control of the Columbia by 1913. The Rabold family owned quite a bit of property in Bowling Green, including the building in which Crescent opened the Princess Theatre in 1914.

SethG on August 5, 2022 at 3:35 pm

The information about the Columbia theater is wrong. There was never an ‘opera house’ on this block. No movie theaters appear until the 1914 map, when there are two. There were two two-story brick commercial buildings on this lot, both built before 1886.

rivest266 on June 4, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Opened March 21st, 1921. Grand opening ad posted.

rivest266 on June 4, 2020 at 12:32 pm

The Capitol theatre opened on March 21st, 1921. Rebuilt and reopened on March 23rd, 1939. Grand opening ads posted.
Capitol theatre reopeningCapitol theatre reopening Thu, Mar 23, 1939 – 13 · The Park City Daily News (Bowling Green, Kentucky) ·

DavidZornig on October 4, 2017 at 11:13 am

Hemmings Motor News article with a photo of the Capitol during the Corvette Homecoming.

rivest266 on June 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Listings ended in 1971 as a cinema. 1971 page at

Silk76 on January 15, 2011 at 2:23 am

This place is classic. When I first moved to Bowling Green from Chicago in 1992, I spent my first New year with my ex-wife here, as the town was doing “First Night” I got to see Jeff Foxworthy, and talk to him after. If I can get some pics of the inside, I’ll post them.

TLSLOEWS on November 8, 2010 at 7:37 am

Great looking marquee on this one.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on November 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Well, someone explain to me How THE CAPITOL closed in 1967 when on Jan 1 1969 it was playing “THE IMPOSSIBLE YEARS” you guys got a date wrong.Check the local paper MOVIE ADS like I do.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 2, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I looked for the circa-1890 Columbia Theatre in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. But the only theater listed under Bowling Green KY was Potter’s Opera House, no street address given, managed by J.M. Robertson and having 950 seats.

kencmcintyre on November 28, 2007 at 12:01 am

Here is another view of the marquee:

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson on November 27, 2007 at 9:54 pm

From: Me
To: local Historian at the local museum.

I’m interested in the history of local cinema here in Bowling Green. In searching for the local paper article concerning the opening of the Martin Theatre in Bowling Green Mall, I came across a bank advertisement concerning the location of the Crescent Theatre as being on Park Row. I was talking to an 84 year old youngster who spent his life here in the area. He remembers The Princess, Capitol, and Diamond (later the State) but nothing else on the square. He called an equally young lady (92) and she remembered only those other three as well. The 1967 ad stated that the building that was the Crescent was currently occupied by the Consolated Loan Company. The gentleman gave me your name as a contact as he and his son had taken a ‘History of Bowling Green’ class taught by you a while ago. Do you know if the Cresent Theatre was on Park Row, or if not, where it might have been?

Her reply

Bowling Green’s early theatres —Diamond, Capitol (originally called the Columbia), & Princess— belonged to the Crescent Amusement Co that had its offices at 416 E. Main from about 1911-1960. All but the Diamond were on Main St. I checked the city directories 1911-1967 and found no theatres on Park Row and no theatre listed as the Crescent Theatre—which makes me wonder if the Capital/ Columbia, was sometimes referred to as the Crescent because of its ownership.

Patsy on August 23, 2007 at 5:18 pm

I would love to see some interior photos of this theatre.

Patsy on August 23, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Lost Memory: The night photo of the lighted marquee in your 11/1/06 photo really shows off the theatre’s beautiful marquee and all of the neat colors.

Patsy on August 23, 2007 at 5:14 pm

I caught a glimpse of this theatre marquee while watching a show on HGTV and had to go and check it out here on CT.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 17, 2006 at 5:51 am

I attended Western Kentucky University during the period when the theatre was being renovated. Through some friends of friends I got a tour of the building right before it reopened in 1981. As the building is – and seems to have always been – quite plain inside, one oddity in the auditorium stands out in my mind.

High on the side wall, house left, is something that looks for all the world like a metal rain gutter. It runs almost the entire length of the auditorium. Nobody knew for sure what it was for: a cove light trough? a chase for ropes to pull the main curtain from the projection booth? a piece of deocoration? a make-do fix for a leaky roof?

Since no one could say for sure what it was, and in an effort to maintain any and all decorative details that still existed, it was painted a lovely old-gold and left right where it was.
It’s been 25 years since I’ve been in the theatre: wonder if it’s still there.