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Restoring the luster to Flint's Capitol Theatre

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
The 90-year-old theater has seen vaudeville, movies and, more recently, decay. Now it's being restored.

A $32 million campaign to renovate an historic building in downtown Flint is getting a big boost.

The 90-year-old Capitol Theatre has been a vaudeville house, movie palace, and for many years a vacant, decaying building in downtown Flint.

But the theater has been undergoing extensive renovations. 

Today, The Hagerman Foundation donated $4 million to the project.

Philanthropist Phil Hagerman remembers as a 14-year-old going to the Capitol to see The Sound of Music with his family.

“It couldn’t have been more exciting for me to be able to go to this amazing venue,” Hagerman told reporters. “To now know that a whole new generation of people in Flint are going to be able to build their own memories for this theater.”

But renovating the Capitol is about more than memories.

Jarret Haynes is the executive director of the Whiting. The Whiting is another venue for live entertainment. In addition to musical acts and live theater, the Whiting recently hosted a debate between Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Haynes says live theater is needed in city downtowns like Flint’s.

“Whether bars, restaurants, gathering places, the theater has a social element to it that revitalizes, reenergizes, and sustains cities throughout this country.”

Major repairs and upgrades to the Capitol Theatre is expected to take 14 to 16 months, after which the theater will host several small events.  

The theater is expected to fully reopen in late 2017 or early 2018.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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