1015 Main Street,
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Capitol Theatre, Wheeling (Official)
Previously operated by: Dipson Circuit
Architects: Charles W. Bates
Previous Names: Capitol Music Hall
News About This Theater
- Oct 3, 2007 — New deal on Capitol Music Hall sale
The Capitol Theatre opened on Thanksgiving day 1928 at a cost of $1,000,000.00. The architect was Charles W. Bates of Wheeling, and R. R. Kitchen was general contractor. The building was constructed to support a planned eight-story hotel which was never built. A large copper marquee with electric and neon sign graced the entrance.
The auditorium originally seated nearly 3,000. The side walls were divided into large panels with borders and silken fabric. Primary color scheme was mulberry, delicate green tones, ivory and various shades of golden russet. There were two balconies, as well as three projectors: one for silent films, one for sound, and one for emergencies. Attractive sculpted figures graced the 44-foot wide proscenium. The ceiling lighting fixtures measured eight feet in diameter and contained hundred of amber color prisms and diffusing bowls. The lobby had two box offices, as well as Cylinder type lanterns with prism head lighting fixtures. The theatre had a $50,000.00 Marr & Coulton 4 manual 17 ranks organ which was built in Warsaw, NY. The auditorium remains intact and largely unaltered, albeit needing some renovation and with some urgent fire code violations to address, which are forcing its imminent closure.
The theatre presented movies and stage shows, and the Wheeling Symphony Society moved into the building in 1929 and the Jamboree presented its first show at the theatre in 1933. Both eventually moved out, the symphony leaving because it felt movie presentations would detract from the symphony performances.
The Capitol Theatre stopped showing movies years ago, but the venue saw major success as the Capitol Music Hall, and the symphony returned to the Capitol in 1961. In 1969, radio station WWVA moved their studios to the Capitol building and used it for broadcasts of the WWVA Jamboree music shows, which drew patrons from the entire tri-state area. The Jamboree attracted many top country music stars including Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash.
Eventually purchased by Clear Channel and recently sold to to Live Nation, the Capitol Building included a recording studio, ballroom and shop, as well as Clear Channel’s other five radio stations in the region.
Although the theatre was busy, the business gradually declined over the years, and the theatre needed renovation. The Jamboree was increasing its focus to outdoor concerts and performing artists increasingly sought bigger venues.
In the spring of 2007, the Capitol Theatre was hit with a list of fire code violations after its annual safety inspection. Analysis indicated that the theatre needed at least two million dollars in work to renovate and address the code violations. In May 2007, Live Nation put the building up for sale for $850,000, and the building expected to close by May 18, 2007.
A coalition of local business leaders and the Chamber of Commerce worked together to develop a business plan for saving the theatre. After a restoration, it reopened on September 23, 2009.
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