Capitol Theatre

1 Parliament Street,
Pretoria 0002

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Additional Info

Architects: Percy Rogers Cooke

Functions: Nightclub

Styles: Atmospheric, Italian Renaissance

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Capitol Theatre

The Capitol Theatre, Pretoria, was one of the first Atmospheric style cinemas to be built in South Africa and is situated in Parliament Street. It was built on the site of the President Theatre. The Capitol Theatre opened by General J.B.M Hertzog (then prime Minister of the Union Of South Africa) on 5th September 1931. The theatre was designed by P. Rogers Cooke, a prominent architect of the time, in the Italian Renaissance style.

A remarkable feature of the Capitol Theatre was the unusual entrance foyer (lobby) and the grand foyer which gave access to the orchestra stalls. These foyers were over 200 feet in length and at right angles to the axis of the theatre.

From the foyer grand staircases led to a wide promenade for use during intermissions for the serving of refreshments. From the mezzanine promenade two corridors gave access to the aisle dividing the loge seats of the dress circle from the upper circle.

The Capitol Theatre was also the proud owner of a Wurlitzer organ that was set behind latticed screens on either side of the proscenium arch and controlled from the console in the orchestra pit.

Sadly, with the arrival of multiplex cinemas in the late-1970’s, the Capitol Theatre was closed to the public on 26th October 1974. What is left of this historical building was converted by Pretoria City Council into a parking garage several years ago. Much of the building is still intact and serves as a reminder of the glory days of the Atmospheric style cinema.

In December 2007, the building was converted into a gay nightclub, named Legends.

Contributed by John Ferreira

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

saint on April 12, 2006 at 10:42 pm

I’ve never fallen in love until I fell in love with this theatre.She is a jewel in the dust of South African rennaisance architecture. I was disgusted to see this beautiful building being prostituted as a parking lot by the city council. I intend taking this further- I want to find a way to revive a sleeping beauty. Anyone interested in helping or if you have some good advice- please mail me…

mcsurrey on March 27, 2007 at 2:22 am

My grandfather, stage name “Willane” was billed 4th to 9th April 1947. Does anyone remember him? I also have a photo of the foyer showing the box office. The middle of the photo is good but some staining on the sides.

atmos on October 30, 2007 at 5:01 am

From what I have read in articles on the internet I don’t think this theatre is still being used as a parking garage.During the last few years concerts and a record launch have been staged there.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on August 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm

A photograph taken in March 2008 of the former Capitol Theatre as the recently opened gay nightclub ‘Legends’:
View link

Keryn on October 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Thanks to the people who contributed to this information and to the photographs which brought back a flood of memories. I used to go to the Capitol every Saturday morning for the 10.00am show and comic swaps. I remember the stars in the ceiling and the movies I saw there – does anyone know what happened to the other movie houses in Pretoria ie The Plaza (where my father was the manager), the Opera House, the Roxy and the President. Any information anyone could give would be fantastic.

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