Capitol Theatre

93 State Street,
Montpelier, VT 05602

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Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 12, 2023 at 9:49 pm

Today it’s partially submerged.

50sSNIPES on July 11, 2023 at 6:37 pm

The Playhouse Theatre opened its doors on Christmas Day 1916, and was first managed by L.W. Schultz.

On September 21, 1938, the 1938 Great New England Hurricane struck the northeast, marking the deadliest Northeast/New England hurricane in U.S. history. The Playhouse Theatre did receive damage from the storm. The Playhouse (managed by Ralph S. Gilbert at the time) immediately closed its doors for a time that evening after an elm tree leaned into the theater building’s roof from Category 1 winds, uprooting yards from the sidewalk and battered down a chimney showering tons of bricks and plaster through the roof. At the time of the roof damage although it didn’t receive as much damage as the other areas and states do, 150 people were in the Playhouse at the time getting set to watch Betty Grable’s “Campus Confessions” along with Evelyn Chandler in “Zero Girl”, a novelty, a newsreel, a movie quiz contest snipe, and a special appearance by Hank Luisetti before showing.

The theater reopened shortly afterward but on the morning of April 2, 1939, the Playhouse Theatre once again went into a disaster, this time it was destroyed by a large fire. This came right after the showing of Wallace Beery’s “Sergeant Madden” along with Colonel Stoopnagle’s Cavalade Of Stuff and a newsreel a day prior. Although nobody was killed or injured from the fire, the damage cost an estimate $100,000. Its upcoming showing of Walter Pidgeon’s “Society Lawyer” along with the latest March Of Time reel were forced to be canceled due to the fire.

On June 23, 1939, Gilbert along with operators from the former Playhouse made an appearance at the City Hall’s board of civil authority meeting, and obtained a rebate of $228 on the real estate and personal property under his theater company.

The theater building was immediately remodeled after the fire and after seven months and three days, then-new manager John J. Ford reopened the theater as the renamed Capitol Theatre on November 2, 1939 with the World Premiere of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in “Rulers Of The Sea” along with an unnamed Donald Duck cartoon and a March Of Time reel.

The Capitol Theatre on February 20, 1981 announced that renovation will take place by Barre’s Paramount Theatre owner Frederick Bashara, who at the time recently twinned the Paramount in Barre. Bashara said that an additional couple of screens will be added to the Capitol in Montpelier. Unfortunately, after its main auditorium was divided, it was first divided into two screens under its “first-phase”. The Capitol Theatre reopened as a twin-screen theater under the name “Capitol Showplace 1 & 2” on July 3, 1981 with “The Four Seasons” at Screen 1 and “Superman II” at Screen 2. Two more screens were added in 1983 bringing a total to four screens and was renamed “Capitol Showplace 1-4”. A fifth screen was added in the mid-to-late 1980s and was once again renamed to “Capitol Showplace 1-5”. In the early-2000s, the theater name was reverted back to its old “Capitol Theatre” name.

pnelson on May 26, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Too bad when classic old theatres are multi-plexed. Much better to save the original auditorium and just build 4 more new ones. Of course that breaks the budget.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 26, 2015 at 4:59 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre report for the Capitol; it’s Card # 583. Address is State St. There is an exterior photo taken May 1941. Condition is Excellent. The report says it was built in 1940 and it shows MGM films. 988 seats. The 1940 population of Montpelier was 8,000.

dmblakeman1 on April 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I do seem to recall the fifth theater was around that time frame of 1995, but the conversion to a multiplex was much earlier. I belive I was in late elementary school (early 80’s) when it became two screens, and the next two came along before I was in high school (before 1985). Then the fifth screen a few years later. I’d love to see pictures of the old theater before it was converted at all.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 15, 2005 at 12:50 pm

I saw a 1938 photo of a Playhouse Theatre in Montpelier. Was that used for films at all?

xltel on September 22, 2004 at 9:40 am

Try this link The comma on the end of the above link broke it.

Gravity on July 1, 2004 at 8:09 am

It does have five screens, but it is still known as only the Capitol Theatre. There are three large screens and two small. Website for the theatre is, but it just lists show times, cost and movies for this and the Paramount in Barre. I’ll take a photo for when the ‘Add a Photo’ is back up.