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Capitol Theatre Turns 90 Today

Clearwater’s downtown landmark theater celebrates 90 years with a street festival and cake.

Warren Harding just became the nation’s 29th president.

Charlie Chaplin was “The Kid.”

And it was the year the Capitol Theatre came to downtown Clearwater.

The fledgling city - not quite six years old - now had a modern vaudeville and movie house in the heart of its downtown. And today, the theater will be honored for its 90th birthday.

Sen. John Taylor had the movie house built during the city's first boom. Movies ran throughout the week and vaudeville performances were Friday night, according to an Oct. 28, 1921 edition of the St. Petersburg Times.

It was the decade of flappers, talkies and “Steamboat Willie," but in time the movie palace went bust.

The Capitol became the Royalty Theatre in 1981. Patrons could buy tickets to see stage shows and musicals performed by local theatre groups.

The Taylor family held the lease on the theatre until they sold it in 1996. By 2008, the theater was facing foreclosure.

Clearwater designated both the theater and the adjacent Lokey building historic structures in 2009, according to the Tampa Bay Informer. Later in the year Ruth Eckerd Hall purchased both buildings.

The movie house's original name was restored. And plans were announced to restore the theater including transforming the Lokey building into a lobby and restrooms for the Capitol.

As part of its renaissance Cleveland Street businesses are throwing the nonagenarian theater a street festival-style birthday party, complete with birthday cake and music.

Also, catch the Shiek, as part of the series at 7:30 p.m.

sacred heart parish March 21, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Join us at the Sacred Heart Spring Festival: April 7 to 10. go to www.sacredheartfestival.com for more details....Biggest fair in Pinellas County
Bob Turner March 21, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I can remember sitting in the Capitol Theater watching Song of Bernadette. The movie went black, the house lights came up and the manager came out on stage and announced the Japanese had surrendered and the war was over. I was eight years old.
Jared Leone March 22, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Thanks for sharing that memory Bob.
GP March 24, 2011 at 06:21 PM
I was very happy to hear when Ruth Eckerd Hall bought the venue. I had always wanted to see what the theatre was like inside. Went to see Colin Hay last year, what a great show and atmosphere. Its great to see some life in Clearwater! I hope they can keep bringing people in. I enjoyed watching a show in the historic building.
Jim Marshall April 10, 2013 at 08:37 PM
I remember back in 1975 I took my two nephews and my 6 year old son to the Capitol to see Jaws. The movie was way to intense for him and he let out a yell during the movie, I want to go see Bambi. I really felt bad but he made it through the film,as we all did.

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