Civic Theater

216 E. Berry Street,
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Majestic Theater

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Majestic Theater ... Fort Wayne Indiana

The Majestic Theater was opened on October 21, 1904 and was destroyed by fire on December 27, 1904. A new Majestic Theatre was build on the site, opening on April 15, 1905,

In 1940 it was renamed Civic Theater, and it continued until at least 1950. It was demolished in 1957. The site is now a parking lot.

Contributed by Billy Holcomb / Don Lewis / Billy Smith

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Scott on December 25, 2009 at 6:24 am

Does anyone know whether this building still exists?

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on October 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

From 1910 a cold wintry postcard view of the MajesticTheater in Fort Wayne.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 10, 2010 at 1:50 am

A history of Fort Wayne published in 1917 says that the Majestic Theatre opened on October 24, 1904. The postcard Don Lewis linked to above also shows the Airdome theater that was tucked into the “L” of the Majestic’s auditorium and entrance buildings.

The facade of the Majestic had been altered by the time this photo was made, perhaps in the 1920s.

The Allen County Public Library also has this interior shot from 1906.

Here is an aerial view of downtown Fort Wayne about 1950, showing the Majestic building at left. The caption identifies it as the Civic Theatre, but Civic was an aka for the Palace Theatre, so the caption is probably in error, unless both the Palace and the Majestic used the name Civic at different times. They probably meant to write Capitol Theatre, though.

rivest266 on June 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Strange, but the billboard says Civic.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm

I ought to have used the zoom feature on that photo. It does say Civic Theatre above the billboard, and so does a smaller vertical sign over the entrance.

I searched the Allen County photo web site, and can’t find any photos of a Capitol Theatre.

The history section of the web site of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre says that the company was founded in 1927 as the Fort Wayne Community Theatre Guild, changed its name to Old Fort Players in 1931, moved into the Majestic Theatre that same year, changed its name to Fort Wayne Civic Theatre in 1940, and moved their operations to the Palace Theatre in 1957. The Civic Theatre company mounted 231 productions at the Majestic over the years. The page doesn’t say what became of the Majestic after the Civic Theatre company moved to the Palace.

Assuming that the theater was renamed for the company in 1940, and retained that name until the company moved out in 1957, then it couldn’t have been called the Capitol during the period when our introduction currently says it was.

A list of Indiana’s movie theaters available here in PDF format has a Capitol Theatre in Fort Wayne, with the AKA Little Cinema, but the only additional information is that it has been demolished. The Majestic is also on the list, with no AKA’s.

ScorpionSkate on October 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

The address for The Capitol Theater would have had to been in the 200 block of East Berry Street if the post card above is accurate. The building to the left of the theater in the picture is the Fort Wayne History Center (old City Hall building) which is located in the 300 block. Of course, the geographic accuracy of post cards in the early 1900’s may be questionable.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

If this house was ever called the Capitol Theatre it had to have been after 1957. The sources I cited in my comments of October 10, 2010, and June 28, 2012, show that it opened as the Majestic on October 24, 1904, and became the Civic Theatre from 1940 until 1957. I’ve found no sources saying what became of it after 1957. If somebody knows for sure that it was renamed the Capitol at that time, please let us know. Until we have such a source, I think the page should be renamed either Majestic Theatre or Civic Theatre, though I’ve also found no sources saying that it ever ran movies as the Civic. It’s possible that the Capitol was an entirely different theater.

Also, ScorpionSkate has me convinced about the location of the Majestic. Looking at the old City Hall in Google Street View and on the aerial view I linked to on October 10, 2010, the Majestic had to have been in the 200 block of East Berry Street. For this reason I have updated Street View to match the location of the postcard view as closely as possible.

Perhaps the mysterious Capitol Theatre actually was at 172 West Berry, and Billy, Don and Billy got the number (and the name) attached to the wrong theater because the postcard mistakenly says the Majestic was on West Berry instead of East Berry? Or perhaps Fort Wayne simply changed its numbering system at some time after the postcard was published.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Fort Wayne, by Randolph L. Harte (Google Books preview) gives the location of the Majestic Theatre as 216 East Berry Street, and says that it was demolished in 1957. That means it must never have been called the Capitol Theatre.

Broan on August 25, 2021 at 5:57 pm

The Majestic was built by George H. Johnson in five months during 1904 and opened October 21. It burned December 27 of that year but was quickly rebuilt, reopening April 13, 1905.

21 Oct 1904, Fri Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana) 21 Oct 1904, Fri Fort Wayne Daily News (Fort Wayne, Indiana)

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