Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Let's Go To the Movies!

Fall River, just like hundreds of other cities once had a bustling downtown, whole areas full of retail shops, haberdasheries, dress shops, bakeries, restaurants, department stores, and movie theaters.

Today much of what made those downtowns great is gone, times changed malls and large chain grocery stores with endless seas of parking dotted the landscape. But like many other cities Fall River believes that we need to revitalize our downtowns. It's a big job and one that will not happen overnight. However several pieces are in place, the state plans on building a new courthouse on the site of South Main Place. (This mall, without the acres of parking, placed right in the middle of downtown was a 1970's failed attempt at revitalizing downtown!) The refurbished Cherry and Webb building is now home to three colleges as well as Fall River's only bookstore. The historic Fall River Public Library has undergone an extensive restoration and revitalization and should serve generations to come. Now the city has a chance to add one more piece to the puzzle.

The Capitol Theater is for sale. The theater, or at least what is left of it remains hidden behind the storefront of the Sonho do Lar furniture store. It closed in 1957 and before the furniture store the building was home to a bowling alley! It's amazing that anything from the Capitol remains but it does despite 49 years, 2 businesses, and 1976 fire the theater is apparently largely intact and a good candidate for restoration.

The fact that the Capitol has been hiding just out of sight all these decades has been known for at least the last several years but now with the building up for sale it's time to act or forever lose the chance to restore one of Fall River's few remaining theaters. Mayor Lambert has mentioned on several occasions that he would like to see the city restore the Capitol and now says the city will explore the opportunity and sees if it makes sense from a financial standpoint.
We can only hope that the city finds that capital to buy the Capitol. A restored Capitol Theater could be not only another piece in revitalizing downtown, but in encouraging the arts in Fall River. One only has too look toward New Bedford, Providence, or Worcester to see what the future of the Capitol could be.

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