Hancock’s Capitol Theatre was first built by the International Organization of Odd Fellows (IOOD) in 1909. IOOD is an international service-oriented organization that still exists today. It was build to house the Hancock Dramatists(founded 1891), the town’s first Dramatic Arts Company which had been holding their Opera’s on the town’ Ice Rink and in other local hotels. The Theatre was build to house the Company and it’s growing audience. When the Theatre first opened in 1909-1910 as the The Odd Fellow Hall it could seat 500 people in it’s new theatre. The second and third floors were designed to host other business meetings. The space was also rented and used on numerous occasions to provide a common area for local events.
The Rebekahs (the female auxiliary of The Odd Fellows) also utilized the property for meetings. Movie continued to grow in national popularity, while Opera becoming less popular by the late 20’s and the expense during the great depression all but killed the Oper businesses of America. During this period the front of the building, which had a large covered porch, was redesigned and enclosed, to create a concessions area, and more public restrooms. This new version of the theatre came to be use for the screening of national feature length movies.
Shortly thereafter, the theatre building was purchased by Mr. English, the Capitol Theatre’s first Proprietor, and owner. From the 1930’s until the mid-1960’s, the Capitol Theatre was run by Eva and Harvey D. English, Jr. as part of the H.D. English theater chain, Harden Theatres.
As television grew, and the local population declined, their movie theatre business became difficult to maintain. There have been 4 owners since Harvey English and in 2000 the Capitol Theatre discontinued operation as a Movie Theatre. The 35MM arc lamp projector, and giant 38 foot screen were sold off. For a time between 2003-2016, the Capitol Theatre hosted live performances by the Old Capitol Theater Players, Little Victory Players, and original plays by Judith Present.
Although it was built in 1909/1910 as the Odd Fellows Hall, it was originally called the Hancock Opera House publicly when it opened. This name was short lived as that type of formal venue went out of fashion in the depression, and quickly began screening films and movies in the years following.
In April 1939 it underwent modern major remodeling and was formally renamed the Capitol Theatre with beautiful art deco wallpaper covering the entire interior, and balcony boxes. They also added an Art Deco illuminated Marquis and hand carved Art Deco Box Office fully fitted in luxury materials. The exterior was covered on each side of the main entry by luxurious blue marble that was added to the front enclosure. The stone and art deco additions were removed in recent years and the original Art Deco Doors and Box Office are now located at the Hancock Historical Society for preservation.
The last time the Hancock Capitol Theatre was used as a Theatrical Venue was 2011, and then the building was briefly used as an antiques and furniture center know as the Two-Sisters Emporium until 2019.
Hancock Capitol Theatre is currently under new ownership and management, and is now being used for Community Events on a case by case basis, including charitable events for the Hancock Area Chamber of Commerce(HACC), Hancock Community Education Foundation(HCEF), and the Hancock Hounds Dog Park(HHDP).
Hancock Capitol Theatre is proud to announce that the Tr-Cities Opera will be performing STONE SOUP at the theatre on April 22nd at 4PM, this is a FREE public program. This will be the first time the theatre has a live audience in 11 years. This will be followed up by Bawshou & the Dragon a Chinese Folklore Theatre Presentation on April 29th, 2022 at 3:30PM.