Construction Begins

Construction sign announcing the coming theater. Photo by George Aurelius.

Construction soon began on the new theater. In fact, I’ll never forget one lazy Sunday afternoon when my dad asked me if I wanted to go see a movie theater. And me, being a bored kid on a Sunday, said, “Of course!” Here I was, thinking my dad was taking me to the movies. Imagine my surprise when we arrived at a construction site. Whatever it was, the walls were just starting to appear, so the first words out of my mouth were, “Where’s the theater?”

My father replied, “You’re standing in the middle of it.” He went back to checking on whatever it was that he had to check on, and that’s when I realized this building was something special. It was the only job site that I recall my father taking me to see.

These are the only known construction photos of the building, and they were taken sometime later. According to George Aurelius’ notes, to position the 124 foot long roof beams, a pair of cranes worked on opposite sides of the building. The crane operators, unable to see one another, communicated by two-way radio. Each beam was carefully hoisted over the top of the building, inched to its location, and then lowered into position.

GM

The roof beam is raised from the truck. Photo by George Aurelius.
The roof beam is slowly moved into position. Photo by George Aurelius.
The roof beam is then placed into position. Photo by George Aurelius.

The Keeper of the Portico Columns

One evening back in February, 2002, a friend and I were driving down a lonely stretch of highway on our way to Yuma, Arizona, when my phone rang. Back then you could answer your phone while you were driving, so I took the call. Harkins Theaters would be recreating the portico columns from the original Cine Capri on the new Cine Capri, but first they needed the renderings from the original blueprints, and did I by chance have them?

Well, yes and no. No, I didn’t have them on me at that exact moment, but no worries, I would be happy to provide them with a copy as soon as I got back to town. And, true to my word, as soon as I got back I delivered a copy of the column drawings to the subcontractor and voila, the columns were rebuilt. I guess we could say this was my personal contribution to the new theater. And what an honor and a privilege to be able to do so.

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The new Cine Capri, complete with the facia and portico columns recreated from the original renderings. Photo by Gayle Martin.

The Cine Capri Museum

Construction of the new Cine Capri is nearly complete. Photo by Gayle Martin

In the spring of 2003, I was asked to help with the museum display for the New Cine Capri at the Scottsdale 101. Of course I was more than happy to provide historic photos from the original theater.

The museum was located on a sidewall in the lobby, complete with some of the salvaged ceramic jade tile from the original theater. The first half of the display would tell the story of the construction of the original theater, with the second half being about its demise.

A few days before the grand opening we all met at the new Cine Capri to put the display together. While the construction crew was busy putting the final touches on the building, a group of volunteers, including yours truly, and someone The Arizona Historical Society Museum, began putting the exhibit together under the supervision of Brian Laurel, marketing director for Harkins Theaters. We started with the usual prep work of vigorously cleaning the display area, as dust can be extremely harmful to historic artifacts. Then it was time to cut pieces of the original gold curtains, hang photos, and organize the rest of the display. By the end of the day we were tired, but our task was complete, and we were pleased with the results. It truly was a labor of love.

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Display of the construction of the original Cine Capri. Photo by Gayle Martin.
Display about the demise of the original theater. Both cases also contain artifacts from the original theater. Photo by Gayle Martin
Theater patrons admiring the display. Photo by Gayle Martin