The Capitol Theatre: Port Chester's Premier Rock Palace Turns 95 in 2021

Suzanne Rothberg

The iconic landmark theatre celebrated the milestone on August 18

Port Chester's own landmark theatre The Capitol Theatre located on 149 Westchester Avenue just turned 95 on August 18. It's just five years away from approaching the big milestone number 100. The theatre is an important staple in the community and legions of music fans. It's also home to the bar Garcia's named after Grateful Dead lead singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia. Trixie, Jerry Garcia's daughter was there back in 2012 christening Garcia's lobby in her father's honor and presenting a statue to the theater of her father's hand.

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The Capitol Theatre logowww.thecapitoltheatre.com/YouTube

Jerry had said in a quote in LoHud.com regarding The Cap,“There are only two theaters, man … that are set up pretty groovy all around for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting and all that — the Fillmore and The Capitol Theatre. And those are the only two in the whole country,” Garcia told Jay Itkowitz after a 1970 concert at Queens College.

Port Chester is famous for its "Dead-Head" history. The firetrucks are adorned with the Grateful Dead skull logos.

“There’s only two theaters, man … that are set up pretty groovy all around for music and for smooth stage changes, good lighting and all that — the Fillmore and The Capitol Theatre. And those are the only two in the whole country,” -Jerry Garcia

The theater opened on August 18, 1926. It was designed by famous architect Thomas Lamb. It was used as a movie theater back then and was boasted in the papers with the 'only theater refrigerating system.' The theater was known for its decorative style and luxurious comfort. It originally had only 2,000 seats. It rapidly changed hands over the years and was used as a concert venue and catering hall in the 80s and 90s. In 1983, the Capitol was purchased by local developer Marvin Ravikoff and new round renovations began and afterward underwent continuous remodeling. It opened on March 7, 1984. It's been added to the National Register of Historic Places. Its primary use back in the mid-80s was to host plays— until a brief resurgence and revival of rock concerts returned when Phish and Blues Traveler visited the grand stage. The economy at the time in the 80s was poor and not too many rock concerts appeared there. In the 90s, it was used as a catering hall and hosted private events such as weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, conventions, and private performances with Hootie and the Blowfish and Katy Perry.

Former owner of Wetlands and current owner of The Brooklyn Bowl Peter Shapiro rapidly decided to turn it around and acquired it in December 2011. The Capitol partnered with concert promoter The Bowery Presents. It reopened in September 2012 as 'Westchester's new premier rock palace.' Bob Dylan performed for The Cap's reopening night and Robert Plant performed a show at The Capitol Theatre as well. A massive renovation installed new lighting, carpeting, sound and video systems and the Capitol was revived under its new ownership of Peter Shapiro. Tiles are currently being installed on the theater walls under the marquis paid for by fans. The tiles are engraved with the fans' favorite memories of their visit to the Capitol Theatre.

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I am a freelance journalist with many years of experience writing, blogging for, and producing videos for several publications. I currently have a blog on Arts Tribune where I mostly write about entertainment news. I have previously written for Blasting News, Daily Voice, Patch, etc.

Port Chester, NY
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