The Capitol Theatre Celebrates 100 Years in Clearwater
The Capitol Theatre has been a gathering place for the Clearwater, Florida community since its doors opened in 1921. For 75 years, the theater entertained thousands of people with all kinds of entertainment.
From the earliest films, to the vaudeville acts of Sally Rand, Fred Stone, and Lum & Abner.
War bond rallies were hosted here and the 1933 Miss Florida Pageant
also took place inside the theater.
In 1953, Titanic premiered on the silver screen with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck.
In 1995, local businessman Socrates Charos purchased the building and operated the Royalty Theater Company, which presented silent films and cultural events.
Facing foreclosure in 2009, The City of Clearwater purchased the building and entered
into a partnership with Ruth Eckerd Hall to manage and operate the facility, reopening it in April 2009.
The result of the renovation was expanded seating and lobby spaces, six private loge boxes, an outdoor balcony overlooking the Clearwater Causeway, a VIP lounge, and a rooftop terrace.
Interested in a theater tour? You can always start by taking a virtual tour!
In 2019 the Capitol Theatre was renamed the Nancy & David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre after the philanthropic couple donated to the Expanding the Experience Capital Campaign.
This theatre did not just survive to see its 100th birthday, it is thriving more than ever.
With over 130 presentations each year, and over 70,000 people coming through its doors… ticket holders come from down the block, across the bay, and across the ocean.
It will remain a vital part of this community for years to come. It is a gathering place where new memories are made every day. We couldn’t be prouder.
“The Capitol Theatre is a great story. It is an example of trying to look into the future.
Recessions, pandemics... they don’t last forever. And we have to look to the future, in
making certain that our community is strong, and our culture is diverse, and to save this
1921 theatre, and to partner with Ruth Eckerd Hall to do it, was just the perfect
opportunity and the perfect marriage.” - Frank Hibbard
Some of the building’s 100 year history is still standing within the theater, too. Next time you are at the Capitol, make sure you look for the following historical artifacts:
Panel of Honor: Have you seen the Panel of Honor, located in our Front Lobby? During renovations, the Panel of Honor was revealed, hidden for almost 90 years. Local historians found a record of this memorial honoring Clearwater citizens who served in World War I. The portion of the wall that was removed can be found preserved at the Clearwater Library Main Branch.
Original and Unique Seats: Walk through our lobby and you may miss this piece of history! Found at a Clearwater estate sale in 2013, these two seats are originally from the theatre’s grand opening in 1921.
One of our more unique pieces sits inside the theatre... Located in the last row, on house left, is where philanthropist and inventor, Donald Roebling used to sit.
Mr. Robeling frequented the theatre during the 1950s and being large both in character and stature, he had his own custom "double-wide" seat installed.
Now, you and a guest can sit in a replica version of this famous chair the next time you buy tickets for a show!
1921 Stage Floor Transformation: Upon removal of the original stage floor, a section of the floor was installed as the threshold into the Ray & Geri Trautlein Dress Circle Lounge. This transformation provides Circle of Stars members with claims they have walked across the original stage of the Capitol Theatre!
Clearwater Sun Mural: Most of the original brick from the building remains intact. Including a portion of the Clearwater Sun Newspaper mural! The Clearwater Sun was in print from 1914-1989. During renovations, the building was absorbed into the new Capitol Theatre. The original brick framework and signage can be seen in the mezzanine seating area on house-right.
There are other pieces of history still displayed throughout the building.
If you want to find them during your next visit, please download our brochure called A Brief History in Time for more information.
Join the party and send us a favorite memory - the older the better - as we celebrate a century in the heart of Clearwater! More Info
Want to be part of the fun at The Nancy & David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre?
Members receive perks that the general pubic do not have access to.