Designed in Neo-Classical style, the Capitol Theatre was built in 1929 by British architectural firm Keys and Dowdeswell, who also designed the Fullerton Building and Singapore General Hospital.
During WWII, it was occupied by the Japanese, who renamed it as Kyo-Ei Gekijo and replaced English films with Japanese ones.
For decades, the theatre was the premier picture house in Singapore, screening countless blockbusters and variety shows.
Capitol Building was built in 1933, four years after Capitol Theatre was completed, expanding on the foundation of the theatre. The building, with its huge billboard and curved corner facade, was the iconic structure at the junction of Stamford Road and North Bridge Road.
Capitol was known as Shaw Building before 1989, as Shaw Organisation bought over the building in 1946. Their showbiz lasted a long 40 years, and finally ended in 1987 when Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) took over the building in 1987. The last movie screened, though, was in 1998.
Both Capitol Theatre and Capitol Building were given conservation status in July 2007.
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has tried to convert the colonial buildings into an arts and design center in 2000 but without success. It was not until 2010 that a S$250-million bid was accepted to redevelop the area in a 99-year lease.
Expected to be completed in 2014, the developers will revive the glories of Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building and Stamford House, and turn the place into a mixture of hotel, entertainment, retail, dining and residential purposes. The cost is estimated to be around S$750 million.
Published: 20 June 2011