Historic Capitol Theater sold

Capitol Theater: Building owner sells historic site to longtime tenant

September 18, 2010 

Capitol Theater

The Capitol Theater marquee, a recreation of the historic 1924 marquee, was installed in 2008 for the kick-off of the Olympia Film Festival.

STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian

OLYMPIA - Downtown's historic Capitol Theater has been sold to its longtime tenant, the Olympia Film Society, the group announced Friday.

“This is a momentous time in our history, and every individual who’s ever been a part of the OFS family has good cause to celebrate,” board president Isaac Overcast said in a statement Friday. He could not be reached for comment Friday night.

“This is the home we wanted,” theater manager Audrey Henley said during a brief interview Friday.

Gary Holgate of Chehalis sold the theater at 206 Fifth Ave. S.E. for $300,000, said Ryan Clintworth, associate broker with Prime Locations of Lacey. The purchase was completed Sept. 1. Holgate still owns the remainder of the Capitol Theater building, which includes retail and office space.

Holgate put the entire building up for sale for $1.8 million in April 2009, citing health concerns. He later lowered the price to $1.45 million, he said in a September 2009 interview. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Capitol Theater’s history stretches to 1924 and the days of grand vaudeville and movie houses. The film society, a nonprofit, member-driven organization, was founded in 1980 and has been screening movies in the theater since 1986.

Being a tenant in the building limited the film society’s opportunities for fundraising. Grant agencies were reluctant to give money for theater upkeep to a group that didn’t own its theater, Henley said.

“It’s giving us more opportunity to say that we’re actually owning the facility that we’re living in,” she said. “That is a whole other world for us. … We’re not even sure what it’s going to mean.”

It could mean a better chance of sprucing up the preserved but worn theater.

“Now we are preparing for our next steps,” Overcast said in his statement, “continuing work to restore the Capitol Theater to its former grandeur and moving ahead with upgrades that OFS members have been requesting for years. We will be looking for partnerships with friends and organizations in the coming months as we forge ahead.”

Staff writer Rolf Boone contributed to this report.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

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