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A Cleveland landmark: Capitol Theatre turns 100 years old with countdown to reopening underway

34 reclining seats were added in two of the theaters during the COVID-19 closure.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: Video in the player above references the 2021 International Cleveland Film Festival.

Its long-lasting legacy on Cleveland’s west side dates back to 1921. Now, on April 8, the historic Capitol Theatre turns 100 years old.

“It was a neighborhood hot spot for many, many years until the ‘80s when it was showing foreign films, but became neglected like a lot of parts of the neighborhood,” said Joss Jones the Marketing Director of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, which now owns the theater.

When it first opened its doors, the Capitol Theatre debuted as a vaudeville and silent film house.

Credit: Cleveland Public Library digital archives
The Capitol Theatre back in 1940.

RELATED: Cleveland International Film Festival goes virtual for second year in a row: How you can watch this year's movies

In the 1980s, the theater closed “due to significant roof and water damage.” Then, in 2008, the theater underwent a $7.5 million renovation and reopened in October of the following year as a three-screen movie theater with digital projection. The first movie shown upon its reopening was More Than A Game, a documentary about Akron native LeBron James.

Before the theater shut down last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say it brought in 60,000 visitors annually.

“During the closure, 34 new reclining seats were installed in each of the two upstairs theaters,” officials noted in a press release.

A sustainability fund is also planned to help raise $100,000 in an effort to preserve the theater and ensure its future as “current funds were depleted after a year of no income.”

Starting April 8, a 100-day countdown will begin for the theater’s reopening, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 17. That date will also mark the first time a movie is shown in the theater since March of 2020.

“We don’t know what movie it will be yet, but it will be something great and a chance for people to get back inside the theater,” Jones said.

The theater’s 100th anniversary will be celebrated Thursday with a free outdoor event from 3-5 p.m.

“A photographer and birthday hats will be available, and movie-themed apparel is encouraged,” officials said. “Limited edition posters and T-shirts, created by a local artist, are also available.”

Here's to another 100 years!

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