The historic Capitol Theatre is a great example of how Flint is preserving its history and revitalizing its downtown.
After a $32-million renovation it has emerged as the crown jewel of the performance arts and entertainment scene in the ongoing downtown revival. The richly detailed, ornate theatre reopened in December 2017.
That work has been recognized and theatre is the recipient of this year’s Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation. The history of the theatre is not only important for the sense of place and pride it promotes but is critical in the overall vision of a resurgent city.
“This is truly an honor for the City of Flint and for all of the hard work and craftsmanship that went into restoring this gem to its original splendor,” says Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp., which redeveloped the facility and supervised its renovation. “The Capitol Theatre is a real hit for Flint & Genesee, and it would not have been possible without the great partnerships that were forged to make it all possible.”
The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office selected the Capitol Theatre project for:
- Showing a commitment to “doing the job right” reflecting the highest preservation standards and ethics
- Reflecting a spirit of cooperation and teamwork by bringing together varied partners
- Leveraging the SHPO/State Archaeology programs or expertise or other state incentive programs
- Having strong support from and/or direct involvement from community members
“The collaboration between the nonprofit sector, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and private foundations underscores the hard work needed to bring a complex project such as the Capitol Theatre rehabilitation to fruition,” says State Historic Preservation Officer Brian D. Conway. “Careful attention was paid to restoring many of the historic features of the building and auditorium while modernizing it for today’s audiences. This project has brightened the community and the Flint area has a new destination for education and entertainment.”
The Capitol was designed by the world-renowned architect John Eberson and constructed and developed by WS Butterfield Theatres, Inc. in 1928. Built in Italian renaissance style, one ceiling was designed after the outer vestibule of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and interior walls recreate views of buildings that evoke old Italy.
“The Capitol, along with being an architectural jewel, is a state-of-the-art performance arts theatre,” says Mark Sinila, chief operating officer of the Flint Cultural Center Corp. and interim director of The Whiting, which manages theatre operations. “It is a tremendous addition to our portfolio of entertainment venues in Flint.”
The Governor’s Awards for Historic Preservation are presented in May during National Historic Preservation Month and recognize, among others, developers who transform underutilized historic structures into vital economic assets while striving to preserve Michigan’s important historic and cultural resources.