Capitol Theatre

204 Massachusetts Avenue,
Arlington, MA 02474

Unfavorite 10 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 28 comments

JD401 on March 1, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Historical note: the theater acquired Western Electric sound equipment in early 1929

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on July 25, 2018 at 2:12 pm

Along with the Somerville Theatre, the Lexington Venue, the Coolidge Corner in Brookline, and the IMAX screens at the Aquarium and Jordan’s Furniture, this is one of the very few theatres that continue to advertise in the Boston Globe Movie Directory.

djahern on July 25, 2018 at 5:57 am

I grew up halfway between the Capitol and the Regent in Arlington. I was about seven (b. 1943) when I went to the Capitol with my buddies Stevie and Paul to see “King Kong”. When Kong first appeared out of the jungle with Fay Wray squirming in her nighty, I told my friends I was going to get popcorn, but I went and got my dime back and went home.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

The Theatre Historical Society archive in Illinois has the MGM Theatre Report for the Capitol. Listed at 204 Mass. Avenue. It was in “Good” condition; had been showing MGM product for over 10 years, and had 1107 orchestra seats and 520 balcony seats; total: 1,627. There is an exterior photo taken in April 1941.

IanJudge on December 22, 2009 at 3:02 pm

We’ve installed Digital 3-D in auditoriums #1 and #4 at the Capitol; 35mm film remains alongside the digital in the main house (#1) but #4 is now 100% digital. While we are very pro-35mm film, installing this equipment was a way to ensure the Capitol gets first run movies in these formats. “Avatar” opened this week in the new Real D process and the presentation was top notch. The second-run market has dried up & this installation will help keep the Capitol open.

-Ian/FEI Theatres

floridarob on December 3, 2009 at 1:26 am

oh, to everyone else, I forgot to mention that I use to work here for the vianos too from 1980

floridarob on December 3, 2009 at 1:21 am

to Bill White:

I worked for the Fraimans also, Doug, his son was a super nice guy… to show you the greed his father had, he pushed his own son out of the way so he could “develop” the property…and boy was his wife a b*tch

HowardBHaas on December 14, 2007 at 1:54 pm

2007 photo of beautiful drinking fountain in the theater-

nkwoodward on December 12, 2007 at 12:44 pm

I am pleased to have a low price but quality theater in my town. The “original proscenium” screen is very good, the other screens are all OK, but the sixth screen in the “stagehouse” is mediocre: it’s long and narrow, and the screen is quite high off the floor. Very reminiscent of the “stagehouse” screens at the Harvard Square, Church St theater in Cambridge.

logowatches on April 22, 2007 at 7:23 am

Very Nice Photos Great JOB!

logowatches on August 13, 2006 at 12:45 am

The Capitol Is one of my favorite places to see a movie. They have good clean theatres great popcorn a good concession stand parking is not much of an issue the price is good. A with The Somerville Theatre they do a very good job. I am very happy we have these two theatres.

billwhite on April 5, 2005 at 11:40 am

The Fraimans, operating under the moniker Chatham Light Realty, were my landlords while I operated Somerville Books and Records in Davis Square. They wanted us out of the building, so sent in a demolition crew and started demolishing the building while we were open for business, destroying much of our stock. Later, when they wanted to get Garen Daly out of the Somerville theatre, they padlocked the buiding against him. the landlords were always jealous of the money their leasees were making from their property. They would see a sold out crowd lining up for a concert at feel they were being ripped off since all they got out of it was a rental fee for the use of the building. So they thought they could run these businesses on their own. Fraiman was a miserable and incompetent theatre operator, relying on bookings from a nitwit who took what was given him. At least Mr. Fraiman did not buckle in to the Arlington prudes who threatened him against showing the NC-17 Henry and June, although we had to put up cardboard on the auditorium windows so that children would not peep in. I was fired as manager after Mr. Fraiman found me in the office on the telephone during a rush in the lobby. that I was on the telephone speaking to a delayed employee was of no significance to him. He wanted me gone for reasons of his own, which I never bothered to investigate. As for the ice cream, it was very difficult for employees to keep their spoons out of it, and we all gained weight.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 24, 2005 at 3:40 am

That new F.E.I. THEATRES logo is now the first thing you see every day at the beginning of the Boston Globe theatre directory — before Loews or Regal or Showcase or AMC. It’s just an accident of Arlington being the alphabetically first town, but I enjoy it every time I see it.

IanJudge on February 23, 2005 at 10:53 pm

The Capitol was built by the Locatelli family, who built and operated theaters in the Arlington-Somerville area (they built the Ball Square Theater and Central Theater in Somerville among others).

The Capitol did feature vaudeville in its earliest years, but not for long.

The theater eventually came under the control of Viano’s Theatres (owners of the Teele Sq., Broadway, Somerville, and Regent theaters), although the Viano’s did NOT own the building. At some point, the current owners (the Fraiman’s) bought the building and when Viano wanted out of the movie business, the Fraiman’s took over the operation of the Capitol.

It was originally going to be turned into apartments (to add to the ones already in the building) but it was suggested by one of Mr. Fraiman’s sons that they try to keep the theater going. They did, although multiplexing was the only way to keep it going.

The sixth screen was added in 1990 and is indeed in the old stagehouse. It is reputedly haunted!

The organ lofts are still there but all equipment was removed years ago.

I don’t know if they are planning a birthday celebration, but I will bring that up the next time I talk with the manager there.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 22, 2005 at 6:07 am

Looking back though some newspaper archives and web pages, I see that the Capitol opened on November 25, 1925, originally had an organ, and was subdivided into five screens in the fall of 1989.

The sixth screen was added a few years later, but I don’t know exactly when. I think it was created from the former stage.

I hope there are some plans for an 80th birthday celebration this year.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 22, 2005 at 5:18 am

Does anyone here (Ian, perhaps) know when this opened?
Also, has it always been strictly a movie theatre, or did it once have live shows?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on February 12, 2005 at 6:17 am

For a few years, the Capitol operated a full-fledged ice cream parlor as part of the concession stand in the lobby. You could just walk into the lobby and buy ice cream, and then sit down and eat it or take it out, without ever buying a movie ticket.

The Capitol concession stand still sells some ice cream, but only a few flavors, not the 15 or 20 they once had. And they no longer advertise it to non-movie patrons.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 26, 2005 at 4:27 am

Since last Friday, the Boston Globe’s movie listings for the Capitol and the Somerville sport a spiffy new F.E.I. THEATRES logo. Until now, the two theatres haven’t really advertised themselves as a chain.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 17, 2005 at 5:00 pm

The ‘Chain’ for this should be listed as ‘FEI’.

Sure, it’s a chain of only two theatres, but the other one (Somerville Theatre) has it correctly listed.

IanJudge on January 31, 2004 at 3:34 pm

The lobby is not the only remnant of the Capitol’s former glory. The original proscenium is preserved in auditorium number one, complete with a huge screen and about 300+ seats in what is left of the orchestra section.

William on November 20, 2003 at 2:07 pm

The Capitol Theatre seated 1600 people when it was a single screen theatre.

William on November 20, 2003 at 2:07 pm

The Capitol Theatre seated 1600 people when it was a single screen theatre.

vann on March 10, 2002 at 12:27 pm

who really owns the capitol

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on January 5, 2002 at 8:15 am

A small correction: the Capitol Theater is not in “Arlington’s downtown”, but rather in East Arlington.

Another old theatre, the Regent, is located in the center of town. The Regent presents concerts and Indian cinema.