Capitol Theatre

2525 W. Broad Street,
Richmond, VA 23220

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Neighborhood Theatres

Firms: Carneal & Johnston

Styles: Art Deco, Atmospheric

Nearby Theaters

Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre was opened with Norma Shearer in “The Waning Sex” on 8th November 1926, in a district 1 mile away from the downtown centre. The architects of this Spanish Atmospheric style theatre were Carneal & Johnston, with decorations by sculptor Ferruccio Legnaioli. It was equipped with a Robert Morton 2 manual organ which was opened by organist John Bower.

It was the first theatre in Virginia to show ‘talkies’ in September 1927. It was re-decorated in 1936 into a streamlined Art Deco styling which lost most of the original Atmospheric style of Legnaioli’s urns, foliage and garden murals. The Robert Morton organ was retained, but was no longer played.

The Capitol Theatre closed in 1984 and was demolished to build a McDonald’s Restaurant, which never happened.

Contributed by KenRoe

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

ghamilton on March 16, 2005 at 3:50 pm

The section on Richmond is sooo lacking.No mention of the Mosque and all the houses that were/are on W.Broad.

balto18 on June 2, 2005 at 9:37 pm

Actually, the Capitol originally advertised itself as being decorated in the Italian style. The organ was NOT a Wurlitzer—it was a Robert Morton. The Capitol remained one of the city’s premiere theatres despite its small size long after the big downtown theatres had become grind houses and was still showing first run pictures in the early ‘80s. However, it finally closed in '85 or '86. It was torn down because McDonald’s wanted to build a new store in the area. They then decided that the site wasn’t adequate after all, and tore down a '20s gas station. That wasn’t sufficient either and they built on an empty lot. Thanks, McDonald’s, for screwing Richmond out of two historic and beautiful buildings for no reason at all!

RayBentley on January 23, 2006 at 1:51 pm

When we operated the CAPITOL theatre (I was ad manager for Neighborhood Theatres), it was the premiere theatre from 1965 until the Ridge opened in 1970. Movies like “MASH” and “THE EXORCIST” ran for weeks to sell out crowds. It had no waiting lobby to speak of, and manager Charlie Hulbert used to enjoy running a long line down towards the hotel, claiming “nothing draws a line like a line” and he seemed to be right. In 1984, we had scheduled “PURPLE RAIN” to show there that summer. A buyer came by and claimed he needed it immediately, so we reluntantly sold the theatre, and then he let it sit idle for two or three years. In the meantime, the Broad Street Cinema just past Willow Lawn opened PURPLE RAIN and grossed $175,000. I believe we sold the Capitol for something like $250,000. Sad we couldn’t have waited.

stearn56 on February 17, 2007 at 5:07 am

I worked part time at the Capitol Theatre in 1980 while a student at VCU. Four floors of the neighboring Hotel William Byrd were used as a dormitory for the university. I worked concession mostly. The manager was an affable fellow named Herschel Hale. I remember the long lines for such first run movies as American Gigilo, Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, The Amityville Horror, and Monty Python’s Life of Brian. I also remember the Italian restaurant next door, Julian’s, had some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. We played heck keeping it out of the theater! Anyone have updates about the area? I haven’t been there since 1981.

cmastersin on July 20, 2008 at 7:26 pm

the Capitol was razed about a decade or so ago, as was Julians right next door, both situated directly across from the old RF&P train station, which still stands, and is now a museum.

kseward on May 18, 2009 at 7:43 pm

1978 clipping of newspaper ads for the Capitol and other Richmond-area Neighborhood Theatres:

View link

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on April 28, 2012 at 4:57 am





bufffilmbuff on September 22, 2015 at 11:49 am

Great theater which always showed the best films. Among those I saw there first run were: 101 DALMATIANS, HARD DAY’S NIGHT, THE STERILE CUCKOO, MANHATTAN, SLEUTH, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (in four track stereo!), BARRY LYNDON, LAST TANGO IN PARIS, LAST PICTURE SHOW, PLAY IT AGAIN SAM, CARRIE…. and so many more. It was a class venue.

DavidZornig on September 14, 2019 at 6:47 am

For ghamilton above, who mentioned the Mosque Theatre.

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