The Historic Capital Theatre

Project Address: Fort Edmonton Park. 7000 - 143 Street, Edmonton, AB.

Architect: HIP Architects

General Contactor: PCL Construction

Masonry Contactor: Scorpio Masonry (Northern) Inc.

Product: Canada Brick (formerly Meridian Brick), Custom Blend, Architectural Cast

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In 1917, Famous Players built the Capitol Theatre, the first silent movie house in Edmonton. When the silent film era closed in 1929, sound equipment was installed. The entire theatre was remodelled in 1938, including installation of the theatre`s famous 2,000 light marquee, the largest in Western Canada. Smoke Shops Ltd. and Kline`s Jewelry Store shared the ground floor with the theatre from 1917 until its demolition. In 1972, Famous Players demolished the Capitol along with the Agency and the Monarch Buildings to make way for the 22-storey Capitol Square Theatre and office complex, completed in 1975. The new Capitol Theatre is a re-creation of the original theatre. Built on the grounds of the Fort Edmonton Park, the modern new building houses a 243 seat theatre that will host film as well as live theatre events. Great care was taken to replicate the scale and materials from the façade of the former Jasper Avenue theatre.  The Architect, Allen Partridge, spent considerable effort to ensure the brick utilized for the new building was true in size and colour to the original. The colour choices were interpreted from a very limited number of poor colour photographs of the historic façade and detailed black and white photography. 

The lower elevation of the original 1917 building featured cast stone and a rangy buff and red brick. The upper portion above the cornice detail was added later (1929) and is a less rangy red brick. The brick modules used in the original construction were called ‘Ontario’ size (4”D x 2-3/8”H x 8-3/8”L) and are generally not in production today. The only company able to provide brick to meet the strict requirements for this project was Hanson Brick in Burlington, Ontario.  Hanson created a smooth texture three brick blend to match the lower elevation (Sundance (70%), Copper (15%), Riverdale (15%)) and a two colour blend (Copper (50%), Riverdale (50%), to match the upper. Riverdale was also used to create the diamond patterns between the windows. Custom Cast Stone elements from Continental Cast Stone in colour 1103 were manufactured for the stone base as well as the medallions, sills and parapet coping pieces.

Scorpio Masonry was contracted to do the masonry for the project. The installation took place over the winter, spring and early summer of 2011 and was completed on a tight construction schedule to allow for opening of the theatre in time for the 2011 Fort Edmonton summer season. Despite the complexity of the detailing and the unusual brick module the project came together and is already become a favorite destination at the park.