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Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium National Historic Site of Canada

972 Saint-Jean Street, Québec, Quebec, G1R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/11/14

Corner view of the Capitol Theatre, showing the front elevation and a side, 1991.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 1991.
General view
View of the main entrance of the Capitol Theatre, 2003.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.
General view
Inside view of the Capitol Theater, 1903.; Fonds Chênevert, Laval University/ Fonds Chênevert, Université Laval, 1903.

Other Name(s)

Théâtre Capitole / l'auditorium de Québec
Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium National Historic Site of Canada
Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1902/01/01 to 1903/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Capitol Theatre/ Quebec Auditorium National Historic Site of Canada is a striking bow-fronted Beaux Arts-style theatre building on rue Saint-Jean, just outside the Porte Saint-Jean in Quebec City

Heritage Value

The Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium was designated a national historic site of Canada because:
- it is a fine example of a Movie Palace in the Beaux-Arts style,
- its remarkable bombé facade evokes the exuberance of "Belle Époque" theatres.

The heritage value of the Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium lies in the Beaux-Arts facade of the building, in the rich classical decor of its interior, and in its design as a theatre and movie palace. Designed by William S. Painter, and originally named the Auditorium of Québec, this building began as a legitimate theatre in 1903, and soon added vaudeville productions to its repertoire. In 1927 its interior was radically altered by architects Thomas W. Lamb and Hélidore Laberge to accommodate cinema, incorporating a new decor and a deep balcony. The building was renamed the Capitol Theatre in the 1930s and used as a cinema with occasional stage productions until the 1960s, then a movie theatre only until 1982. In 1992 the Théâtre Capitol Theatre / Québec Auditorium was restored and returned to operation as a legitimate theatre.

Sources: HSMBC Minutes, November 1986, June 1993.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of this site include:

- the composition of the building into two main sections, comprising a curved street-front section and rectangular rear box;
- the composition of the curved 'bombé' street façade, ordered vertically in the following manner: a base storey of three segmental arches between framing end bays; two storeys above of giant applied half columns framing Chicago-style windows, also framed by blind end bays; an attic storey of small apertures; and a curved, Mansard roof storey punctuated by oval attic windows;
- the continuation of this general composition on the side walls;
- the type and application of materials, specifically: red brick as the principal wall material, with accents of pale stone for the applied columns, string courses, entablatures, keystones, and window surrounds, and coloured metal trim around the centre windows and as cresting on the cornice, the roof line, and defining the roofs of the end pavilions;
- the features of the theatre interior that clearly date from the earlier interior of the legitimate theatre, its ceiling, proscenium arch, and lobby;
- the adaptations made to the original legitimate theatre to revise its layout for a cinema audience, namely the increased density of ground floor seating, the conversion of boxes into faux box decor, the reduction of balconies from two to one as well as the projecting rather than curved balcony form, the addition of a sweeping staircase to the balconied mezzanine gallery from the oval vaulted foyer;
- the deep sloped cantilevered balcony and rich but restrained classical decor in the auditorium, vestibules, foyer, and orchestra areas;
- the historical mural that addresses Quebec historical themes;
- the prominence of the site in the cityscape.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1930/01/01
1927/01/01 to 1927/01/01
1930/01/01 to 1982/01/01
1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type


Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub


Architect / Designer

Thomas W. Lamb


William S. Painter (designer)

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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