Capitola Theater

120 Monterey Avenue,
Capitola, CA 95010

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Additional Info

Architects: Harold Axel Onstad

Styles: Quonset Hut, Streamline Moderne

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News About This Theater


The auditorium of the Capitola Theater was constructed with a laminated wood arched roof. It opened August 6, 1948 with Gene Kelly in “The Pirate”. It was under the same family ownership/operation until its closure as a full-time movie house in the mid-1990’s. The Capitola Theater was a much-loved double-feature bargain theatre serving all of Santa Cruz County. If you didn’t want to pay top price at the other theatres in the county, you could usually wait several months and your film would play the "Cap."

At times threatened with demolition, the theater was rescued by a group of local opera artists, who built a stage in front of the screen and presented opera there with success, as well as screening movies to fill in spaces in their schedule. It was closed in 2006, and was demolished in May 2010.

Contributed by Gary Parks

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 4, 2009 at 7:13 pm

The Capitola Theatre was built for Arthur Mayer of San Francisco and Joseph Jacobs of Burlingame. Although construction of the Capitola began in late 1947, materials shortages delayed its completion, and it didn’t open until the summer of 1948. The start of construction was announced in the December 6, 1947, issue of Boxoffice Magazine, and the opening in the August 7, 1948, issue. The September 3, 1973, issue of Boxoffice said that the Capitola had celebrated its 25th anniversary on August 6.

DavidZornig on October 25, 2009 at 4:17 am

I guess it’s doomed when the Mayor doesn’t consider it historic.
Then they cite the property forcing abatement due to health concerns. It’s just a route to get the owner/ developer to tear it down all the quicker.
Wonder how many of those “threatened” Eucalyptus trees will come down to build the hotel?

If the developer included plans for a small stage within the hotel, it might quell any backlash.
Though no one even commented to the newspaper’s article forum.
The link to the current status & story is on the CT Home page BTW.

DavidZornig on October 25, 2009 at 4:22 am

BTW II: A Mr. Haven’s wrote an excellent comment yesterday that posted to that current story on the home page.
Maybe CT admins can transfer it directly to this Capitola page.

Element1604 on May 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

This theatre is being demolished today.
Most of the equipment is now in the dump.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

If one had the chance they should have gotten in somehow and saved some parts of that Theatre,I know i did it when they came in to wreck my favorite two theatres. Got quite a bit out of the booth and managers office.It wasn’t all going in the trash if i could help it.

GaryParks on July 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm

The Capitola’s well worn parking lot is still there, but a freshly-laid L-shaped pad of blacktop marks the footprint where the auditorium and lobby once were. The front lawn has been scraped away as well. The old cement block wall that once separated the theatre from the Lido restaurant (and Mac’s Patio bar before that) still stands.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 26, 2010 at 8:37 pm

A card in the L.A. library’s California Index cites a 1948/1949 theatre catalog naming the architect of the Capitola Theatre as Harold Onstead. I’ve been unable to find anything else about him on the Internet.

jake4ken on August 3, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Our family ran the Theater with Audrey Jacobs taking the job for a year and ran it for 50 years when she retired. It was a family enterprise and started with the running of both the Soquel and Capitola Theaters. The original builiding was an old quansit hut purchased from military surplus according to my father, Merton Jacobs the nephew of Joseph and Racine Jacobs.

Audrey used to say that the theater was her baby and after all she was the first woman to run a movie theater in the state of California.

Patsy on January 10, 2015 at 6:58 pm

So sad that this seaside town has lost their theatre.

dallasmovietheaters on August 12, 2021 at 10:42 pm

Launched with Gene Kelly in “The Pirate” on Aug. 6, 1948.

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