0u1a9037-550?v=1

An Iconic Stage Travels Through Time

The historic Capitol Theatre has seen everything from Technicolor to Dylan Scott

The city of Lebanon, TN, was full of excitement back on December 9, 1941. Everyone was a buzz with anticipation for the grand opening of the Capitol Theatre. Citizens were eager to get to the movies to see Betty Grable in Technicolor! In the early years, the theater seated 1000 and was expertly crafted as one of the best buildings in town. 

After being open for almost 40 years, this beloved theater closed in 1980 and sat dormant for nearly three decades until 2009, when it was purchased as a passion project by Bob and Pam Black. It remains one of the few privately-owned historic theaters in the US. Raised in a military family, Bob Black moved around frequently in his childhood. When arriving in a new town, the first thing they would do is seek out the local theater. 

The purchase and renovation of the Capitol Theatre took four years. As you might imagine, after 30 years of vacancy, it was in quite a state, including holes in the roof that contributed to significant interior damage. Black wanted to keep the Art Deco atmosphere of the venue, so they salvaged and restored as much as possible. From the outside, the marquee proudly displays the original letters. Walk inside, and you’ll notice the original terrazzo floors, poster boxes, restroom signs, and light fixtures. The paint colors were also matched from the remaining chips of paint on the walls. It’s like stepping back in time!

With a complete audio-visual upgrade, Capitol Theatre now operates as a unique multi-purpose building. Common functions include conferences, craft fairs, and even proms. During the renovation, they discovered a beautifully-bricked attic which is used for more intimate gatherings such as baby showers, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, and business meetings. 

This one-of-a-kind space has hosted some eccentric celebrations and national events since reopening in 2013. The Macabre Faire moved its 4-day indie film festival from Long Island, New York, to Lebanon, Tennessee, in 2021 and will return this Fall. Over 100 movies are featured during the weekend, including live music every evening with specialty drinks and food items served from the concessions area. 

Audience of One Productions also calls the Capitol Theatre home. With a vision of having Broadway-quality theater available in Wilson County, director Angie Dee frequently sees sold-out shows on this remarkable stage. The 2023 season includes The Music Man Jr. and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. 

Since its revitalization, this nostalgic theater has received several accolades. Not only is it a Main Street Award Winner for Best Event and Family Fun Entertainment Venue, but it’s also where Dylan Scott recorded his music video, which later won him Best New Artist of the Year. Those in the music industry specifically know this auditorium as one of the best for sound quality and acoustics. Additionally, several commercials, TV shows, and movies have been filmed here, including an episode of Chrisley Knows Best. 

Brides love the location for its history, charm, and fun way to wow guests. The Art Deco backdrop is a perfect setting for gorgeous photos. Plus, the experience of seeing their name in lights on the iconic marquee is icing on the cake. It turns out that anyone can rent the marquee to display a special message, including birthdays, anniversaries, and – you guessed it - proposals! 

If you want to experience the historic charm for yourself, the Capitol Theatre hosts retro movies for only $5 throughout the year. Some popular shows sell out quickly, including Grease Sing-A-Long, Hocus Pocus, Polar Express, and the themed trivia nights followed by a classic movie. The full schedule is available at capitoltheatretn.com. 

“The lobby was adorned with brightly-colored arrangements of fresh flowers sent by every single business in town. Everyone was so happy when we opened.” – Earnest Weatherly, Projectionist in 1949

Related Businesses

Museum at Prairiefire

Museums + Art Galleries

Museum at Prairiefire

Overland Park, KS

The Museum at Prairiefire provides ACCESS FOR ALL to understand and celebrate natural history and science. The Museum is open...

Nashville Zoo

Botanical Gardens

Nashville Zoo

Nashville, TN

Nashville Zoo is a progressive and dynamic zoological park serving Middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky and hundreds of...

Powell Gardens

Botanical Gardens

Powell Gardens

Kingsville, MO

Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s botanical garden, is set on 970 acres of lush, rolling hills. Known for its contemporary...

See More

Related Articles

See More