History of Perth’s lost theatres and cinemas: Capitol Theatre

History of Perth’s lost theatres and cinemas: Capitol Theatre

Arts & Culture Cultural Heritage

by Rose Raymen

Capitol Theatre 1929 – 1968

Top image: The Capitol Theatre, William Street, Perth, 1931, Image 101412PD (Source: State Library of Western Australia)

The Capitol Theatre, located at 10 William Street, Perth, was designed by architects George Temple Poole and Christian Frederik Mouritzen and was officially opened on Saturday, 4 May 1929, by the Lord Mayor of Perth, James Thomas Franklin. One of the Capitol Theatre’s stunning features was the Art Nouveau stencil work in the lounge foyer by designer, scene painter and decorator Philip Goatcher, nicknamed ‘Satin and Velvet’ Goatcher for the textile illusions he created. The Capitol Theatre also secured a marble bust of the late silent screen star Rudolph Valentino, by noted Italian sculptor Professor Giuseppe Bessi, which today forms part of the Museum of Performing Arts collection at His Majesty’s Theatre. The lavish crystal chandelier, that once adorned the Capitol’s auditorium, now hangs in Melbourne’s Princess Theatre.

In 1966, the need for a concert venue in Perth became critical when the Capitol Theatre was sold for the second time in six months to make way for a $1,000,000 six-storey office block. Located in a central position at the river end of William Street, the Capitol could seat 2,250 patrons and had featured such legendary performers as Noel Coward, Vivien Leigh, and Sir Laurence Olivier. The Capitol Theatre also played an important part in the West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s regular venue from 1953 until 1966. The ABC’s State manager, Graham Chisholm, feared that visiting celebrities might have to perform under canvas. Left with no permanent performance space, concerts were shifted to Winthrop Hall at the University of WA and WASO remained at the venue until the Perth Concert Hall was opened on Australia Day, 26 January 1973.

The Capitol Theatre interior,1931, Image 101413PD (Source: State Library of Western Australia)
The Capitol Theatre interior, 1931, Image 101413PD (Source: State Library of Western Australia)


State Library of Western Australia

Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Fremantle Library

Trove – National Library of Australia

Museum of Performing Arts (MOPA)

West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO)




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