The Capitol Hill Theatre

Across from the Penn (see earlier post)  was an even older theatre, the Capitol Hill. Working there in the 1960s, I did some research and came up with an opening date of September 1909. Richard Headley in his excellent “Motion Picture Exhibition in Washington, D.C.”  gives 1910.

Originally called the Avenue Grand it featured vaudeville and motion pictures.  As I recall the wing space was practically non-existent and the dressing rooms in the basement were probably nothing special in 1910. When I first went to the theatre as a kid in the 1950s, it seemed run down, a bit seedy and reeking of age. This is where I saw many of the Universal “B” monster movies including “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

At some point in the mid 1950s or early 60s, the theatre  became the Capitol Hill. After renovating the space, owner Donald King opened on August 17th, 1967 with “The King of Hearts.”  I was an usher that evening but over the next few months served as doorman, cashier, assistant manager and finally manager. Everything being a bit chaotic.

Shortly after I moved on to a theatre in Arlington, Virginia, a “for sale” sign went up on the old Avenue Grand-Capitol  Hill . A fire broke out, in November 1970, destroying the interior. The last remnants of the burned out theatre razed soon afterwards.

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