From foundation, to fire, to a fresh start: The Capitol Theatre

YAKIMA, WA - The Capitol Theatre in downtown Yakima has a rich history in the city, but tragedy struck the building in the 1970's.

In 1920, Frederick Mercy realized his dream of building a Vaudeville house with the opening of The Mercy Theatre.

A year later, the name changed to what we call it to this day, The Capitol Theatre.

As time passed and as motion pictures boomed in popularity, Vaudeville slowly died.

Then in 1975, the Mercy family sold the theatre to the City of Yakima, and just a few days later, a late night fire gutted the building. It destroyed nearly everything. The stage, basement, dressing rooms, and most of the facade were just a few things that survived.

"We got rid of the popcorn machine that probably caused the fire, but we have this glorious facility that is one of the grande dame's of the Pacific Northwest," said Charlie Robin, the Capitol Theatre's CEO. "When it was built in 1920, it was the largest venue of its size in all of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia." 

And there was another tragedy in the fire - a Yakima firefighter was paralyzed after the roof collapsed.

Despite this, the community rallied together and raised more than $700,000 to rebuild the Capitol Theatre. It reopened just two years after the fire.

Now, the theatre is back to its former glory. Only a few modifications were made when it was rebuilt.

It is currently home to musicals, concerts, and other shows like the Yakima Town Hall Speaker Series.

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