Capitol Theatre

542 State Street,
Salem, OR 97301

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dallasmovietheaters on March 15, 2020 at 3:53 pm

Act III took on the theatre downgrading it to sub-run, discount status. It closed with Back to the Future III and Total Recall on October 4, 1990

rivest266 on September 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm

October 5th, 1926 grand opening ad in the photo section.

CSWalczak on April 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Interior picture. This may have been posted previously, but many previous links are dead.

Kiwanda on March 7, 2009 at 12:36 am

Ah, I fondly remember the Capitol at the place “not quite as good as the Elsinore.” I saw Star Wars, Raiders, Platoon, The Mission, etc. at the Elsinore. What I remember most from the Capitol was “Gremlins.” Still, sad to see it’s now gone.

GaryParks on April 15, 2007 at 6:52 pm

I saw and photographed what remains of the Capitol week-before-last. A beautiful theatre was sacrificed for a handful of parking spaces. The facade could have been retained without losing any parking, but it made way for a row of pathetic little bushes.

The stagehouse remains, with the proscenium opening closed-off by cement blocks. One sidewall of the auditorium still mostly stands—bare concrete with some fragments of textured decorative plaster and the stepped outline of the balcony risers. One Corinthian column in white-glazed terra cotta stands as the sole remainder of the theatre facade proper. To the right of this, an ornamental doorway surmounted by a niche containing an urn now serves as a storage place for dumpsters. Originally, this passage lead from the balcony fire escape out to the street. The office and retail portion of the Capitol building remains intact and functioning, and continues all around the corner to the facade of the separate Elsinore Theatre. The Capitol’s still-standing stagehouse backs up to one end of the Elsinore’s stagehouse.

petmolly on April 23, 2006 at 8:38 am

Hello – I am trying to find more information on the Bligh family that at one time owned and operated the Capitol/Bligh Theater in Salem, Oregon. I am a descendant of the Bligh family and am anxious to find more relations. Please e-mail me at if you have any information for me.

kencmcintyre on January 9, 2006 at 4:59 pm

Here is a 1925 photo from the Oregon Historical Society:
View link

Chambermouse3 on December 28, 2005 at 7:53 pm

The firm that built the Capitol was Tranchell and Parelius.

kencmcintyre on December 28, 2005 at 6:14 pm

This link has some interesting photos of the Capitol Theater:

Chambermouse3 on September 30, 2005 at 3:28 am

I did quite a bit of research on this building years ago because it was my all-time favorite. The “Bligh’s Capitol Theatre” opened on October 5, l926 and sat 1,200 originally. It could have easily seated 1,500. There were no “knee cruncher” seats at any time in this theatre! The style was Palladian/Italian Rennaisance with ivory, simulated travertine marble, and polychrome paint schemes. Please visit for some nice photos. The Capitol opened as a vaudeville/movie house with sound wired in for the movies that would soon be talking. The stage deck was very large; some 35'X70'. This stage deck was serviced by an Otis hydraulic baggage lift which descended to the dressing rooms below. Vaudeville ceased in l930 when the theatre was bought outright by Warner Brothers. Originally owned and operated by Willamette Valley theatre magnate Frank Bligh, the theatre was in debt from the start due to a $250,000 loan taken out by Mr. Bligh to build it. This was his undoing as the “Pru-dential” insurance company was looking to make good on their investment. The Bligh family liquidated their holdings and retired to Albany to “lick their wounds” as one family member put it. The theatre was equipped with an eight-rank Wurlitzer pipe organ with a double stop rail and three manuals. It was a very special instrument and survives to this day in Washington state. The instrument contained a number of unusual features for its size. Advertized as the “$25,000 Ascending Wurlitzer”, the white console rose and descended on an Otis hydraulic lift. The archetects of the building were John Tourtelotte and Charles Hummel. The auditorium featured a cry room for babies in a glass enclosed area on one side of the projection booth and a smoking room also enclosed in glass on the other side. I hope this fills things in a bit.—– Eric Schmiedeberg

mcrisby on June 21, 2005 at 9:00 am

Fond memories of this grand, old theater… Remember waiting in a long line to see “The Empire Stikes Back” and passing a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” movie poster on which a young lady had kissed the glass and left a lipstick trace on Indy’s cheek.

William on November 19, 2003 at 3:13 pm

The Capitol Theatre seated 1151 people.