Reader’s letter: Theater in the good old days


Ignis Jacobson from Pretoria writes:

As a child, my grandfather Peet du Plooy was the costar of the Kruger Reformed Church, in Kerkstraat opposite the Kruger House museum. They lived in the old parsonage right next to the church.

When we vacationed there, we often visited the beautiful Capitol Theater. Among other things, a concert by Gé Korsten in 1968 and the first original Batman and Robin-movie.

There were beautiful little stars shining from the roof. I also remember the beautiful decor and statues. Recently I decided to try to visit the theater and only found the entrance on my second try.

The friendly security guards at the door quickly allowed me to enter. Two (of the five!) guards hired themselves as tour guides for the theater – Amos and Johannes.

The old theater is a beautiful and impressive structure that was completed in 1931. It was designed by the architects Gordon Leith and William G McIntosh in an Art Deco style, which was very popular at the time.

The building itself is a masterpiece of architecture, with striking walls decorated with ornaments and sculpture. The main entrance is characterized by a large and impressive door that gives access to the spacious and elegant foyer area.

The theater has a capacity of around 1,500 seats, making it one of the largest theaters in the area. Where the seats were, is now a parking garage.

The old Capitol Theater was one of the most important theaters in Pretoria. A variety of entertainment was offered here and it was a festival to attend the theatre. In those days, the city center was still safe and accessible to everyone.

In the course of its existence, the theater underwent several changes. It has been used for movie theatres, musical performances and even for a shopping complex. The Capitol has always been part of the rich history of Pretoria and has become an important part of the culture and identity of Pretoria.

Unfortunately, with the advent of movie theaters in shopping centers in the late 1970s, the Capitol Theater was closed to the public on October 26, 1974. What remained of this historic building was converted into a parking garage by Pretoria’s city council a few years ago. It is now just a reminder of the glory days of the cinema in atmospheric style.

It is a shame that such a building will be lost to our posterity. It was truly one of the most beautiful theater buildings and what a wonderful experience it was for me!