Pasadena’s Capitan Theater Is Already Coming Apart. Is Demolition Next?

Capitan Theater, 1001 Shaw Ave., Pasadena, Texas

Capitan Theater, 1001 Shaw Ave., Pasadena, TexasThe city of Pasadena is likely to go ahead with the sale of the Corrigan Center at Shaw Ave. and Pasadena Blvd., which includes the once-grand Capitan Theater, to a New Jersey oil-industry inspection and lab-test company called Camin Cargo Control. Under the $4.6 million deal, already approved by city council once earlier this month in a 6-3 vote, the city would lease back the 31,982 sq. ft. of the property — the parts currently occupied by fire department administrative offices and the city’s municipal court. The lease-back wouldn’t include the long-vacant 1,500-seat art deco theater.

But a reader tells Swamplot that decorative pieces from the front of the 1949 theater — which after an exterior renovation looked pretty spiffy until recently (see photo at right from last year) — have already been removed. “The marquee boards, neon, and the whole vertical metal section that said “Pasadena” are gone, leaving just brick behind it,” Spence Gaskin writes. “The marquee stuff had been gone a few weeks at the least, but I just noticed the Pasadena sign removal.”


Is demolition of the theater part of Camin Cargo Control’s plan for the property at 1001 Shaw Ave.? “No information has been made available,” Kristi Nix wrote in the Pasadena Citizen last week.

Photos: Spence Gaskin (current); Molly Block (last year)

Art Undecoed

13 Comment

  • Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

    Pasadena is still pretty gritty and has a quasi urban grid….it also has a decent amount of old school and urban architecture still…man I hope they dont demo this…

  • Damn! This is one of the ‘good’ things about driving on 225.
    Another one is that old circular hotel, can’t remember what it was. I always look over to see if it’s still there. Course, it may be gone by now, I haven’t been out that way in months.

  • Very sad to see it restored… and then demolished. Any idea where the salvage went??

  • Elseed: “the long vacant….”
    If it’s not worth buying and using as a theater, or so far gone that no one would upgrade it to lease as an operational theater, I’m not sure what other options there are. It’s hard to justify just sitting on something while it rots vs having someone build new.
    I don’t like to see something old and cool get blown up but when it happens it suggests that better options were not there.

  • Oh, I’m so bummed to learn this news. (Thanks, as always, for reporting it, Swamplot, and thanks for including one of my photos as the “before” shot.)

    The theater’s exterior neon, after it was restored several years ago, was a beautiful sight to behold, for sure. I also wonder where the signage went. (If anyone reading this knows, please tell us!)

  • Un cine en Pasadena sin peliculas en espanol? Adios, cine!

  • I don’t know how long it has been like this, I had been working in Houston for a few weeks, but am now back in Pasadena & was surprised how much was gone. The plastic part of the marquee where the movie titles were displayed were first to go and I didn’t think much of it. then. Like Molly said, if you know what is going on let us know, that is why I turned in the current photo. I wish I had gotten to see the neon lit up, but I always enjoyed seeing the building. I didn’t do any real snooping around, but there was no dumpster or anything around to show they were currently doing work there out front.

    Karma, the circular hotel is still there, I don’t know the current name of it, and the old Pasadena State Bank building is still sitting abandoned as the only building around taller than that hotel.

  • I think it would be great if they demo it and put a Wal-mart in its place or maybe one of those generic strips centers that has Old Navy, Bestbuy, Bed Bath and Beyond etc…

  • Cody: “If it’s not worth buying and using as a theater, or so far gone that no one would upgrade it to lease as an operational theater, I’m not sure what other options there are.” In the Houston area alone, there are a couple of examples of adaptive reuse of movie theaters to mention. For starters, there’s the old Alabama Theater that’s now home to a Trader Joe’s store. A couple of miles from there, El Real Tex-Mex restaurant calls the former Tower Theater home. In east Houston, the DeLuxe Theater’s getting turned into a community arts center. The now privately owned Heights Theater is used as an art gallery and special event space. And in Pasadena, I remember seeing a building downtown that looked like an old theater building; it was turned into a gun place. (Gun range/shop?) I took a photo of it when I was in Pasadena in March 2013, but didn’t go inside.

    Additional examples of new uses of old movie theaters (in Texas) I’ve seen: In Luling, the Stanley Theater is now used as an antiques/collectibles mall. (When I walked around inside, I remember noticing the sloped floor had been leveled off.) Grand Prairie’s Uptown Theater is used as a performing arts venue. So is New Braunfels’ Brauntex Theater, Wharton’s Plaza Theater, Corsicana’s Palace Theater, Palestine’s Texas Theater, Greenville’s Texan Theater, and Denton’s Campus Theater. A former movie theater in downtown Rosenberg was slated for renovation for similar use, and I remember reading about similar plans for the theater in Edna. In Dallas, both the Kessler and Granada Theaters are used as live-entertainment spaces. Denton’s Fine Arts Theater serves as the home of a church. In Houston’s Heights neighborhood, a church took over an old theater on White Oak; there’s another one north of there (on Ella Blvd. in the Garden Oaks area, I think). There probably are many other reuse examples throughout Texas and beyond; these are just the ones I’m aware of (and can think of off the top of my head) because I’ve stopped by these buildings and taken photos of their vintage neon signs, which I love.

    In short, there could be reuse options for some disused theater buildings! :)

  • i’d just note that one of the issues for re-purposing the theater is that this area really is a commercial dead zone. i recall this strip being vacant for the longest time long before the city moved into it, but i could be wrong as was quite a bit young in those days.
    regardless, i can’t imagine anything being able to keep this strip alive outside of turning it all into business space related to the refineries in the area. could be wrong as it’s been many years since i’ve been back down 225, but in the 15yrs i’ve spent outside of stinkadena that whole area has remained exactly the same from what i’ve seen. always a sore sight compared to what i’ve encountered the past 10yrs in the ‘trose.

  • @ Molly Block : The Garden Oaks theatre turned church is actually on Shepherd (not Ella) between 34th and 43rd, just after the rail road tracks underpass if you’re heading north from 610.
    I’m torn about this. I hate that an old deco building is being (potentially) lost, but as has been said here – the area is SO industrial and gritty now it really wouldn’t be a viable theatre. Leaving the building’s exterior and repurposing the interior would be a really good compromise to preserve one of the few achitecturally significant buildings in Pasadena.

  • Driving by today I saw the triple movie poster frames on each side of the entrance are gone. Things look about the same otherwise.

  • I recently came to my hometown this past Labor Day and was very shocked and sad to see what happened to my childhood theater where many Saturday’s I would have my mom drop me and my buddies off with $1.50 each at the “El Capitan” so we could see the double feature…usually the “Three Stooges” or a Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin film ! Always cartoons between the movies and a guy would come out on the stage between the movies and would ask which lucky boy or girl is going to win a new bicycle this week ? …and the kids would scream and blow on the end of their ” Red Hots” box making the most racket and clutching their tickets and praying their sequence of numbers on their movie ticket was the big winner ! There was the smell of hot freshly popped pop corn throughout the lobby and beyond all the way up the winding staircase that lead to the upper balcony! Before the huge curtains opened slowly with the 20th Century Fox music ushering in the movie your eyes were fixed on the majesty of the place with such elaborate detail all over the ceilings and walls…a real grand experience I’ll treasure FOREVER !!! A jumbo sour pickle for a dime…bag of pop corn…a Mr. Goodbar…and a box of Red Hots and still had change in my pocket when I got home that late afternoon on a Saturday after two movies…cartoons…stage prizes….screeming & laughing with my buddies at the “El Capitan” was a very,very special in my life growing up as a kid in Pasadena,Texas….I’m 64 years young again when I think of the times making faces at the crying babies in the “Cry Room” that was a godsend to take those crying babies during the showing of the movie….unheard of these days….Thanks for all those glorious Saturdays “El Capitan”…you gave hundreds of kids memories for a lifetime !..R. I. P.