Capitol Theatre, Clearwater Florida
This historic theater reopened in 2014 following an $11 million restoration project sponsored by the city of Clearwater. Restoration efforts were given a surprise boost when Geri Trautlein donated $1 million to support the project in honor of her late husband Ray, whom she met for the first time at this theater at the age of fourteen. The building was erected in 1921 and offered movie showings and live vaudeville performances. It is one of the city's oldest operating theaters.
The Capitol Theatre following its grand re-opening.
A view of the theater in mid-century
The theater during a 1943 war bond rally
Backstory and Context
When the Capitol Theatre opened on March 21, 1921 (it was built by Senator John S. Taylor), the local press declared that it was "“one of the most beautifully finished playhouses in the South.” That night the theater showed the silent film, "Dinty." For the next seven decades, the Capitol was Clearwater's primary entertainment venue, from offering vaudeville shows to performances by the Clearwater Symphony Orchestra. In 1995, local businessman Socrates Charos bought the building and named it the Royalty Theater. It once again offered silent films and hosted cultural events. By 2009, the Capitol appears to have closed was facing foreclosure. Fortunately, the city bought it and reached an agreement with Ruth Eckerd Hall to operate it. The name was changed back to Capitol Theatre at that time. The theater was renovated in 2013 and expanded into two adjacent buildings.
Charlie Frago, "Woman's $1 million gift will help restore Clearwater's old Capitol Theatre," Tampa Day Times, July 18, 2013. http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/womans-1-million-gift-will-help-restore-clearwaters-old-capitol-theatre/2132000.
Eliason, Brooke. "Capitol Theatre," Clearwater, Pinellas County History Project. Accessed 10/27/16 https://pinellascountyhistory.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/capital-theatre-clearwater-fl.
"Venue History." The Capitol Theatre. Accessed November 13, 2023. https://www.rutheckerdhall.com/plan-your-visit/the-nancy-and-david-bilheimer-capitol-theatre/venue-history-capitol.