Capitol Civic Centre

History of the Capitol Civic Centre


The Capitol Civic Centre, Inc., established in 1987, resides in what was built by the George Brothers and operated as the Ascher Brother’s Capitol Theatre, opening on June 16, 1921. The Ascher Brothers operated more than 50 vaudeville theatres. The theatre review at the time in the local newspaper stated: 


“The conception of the Capitol Theatre is somewhat at variance with the general run of movie  houses in that it is a combination movie house and theatre. In fact, the most elaborate stage setting can be easily accommodated at the Capitol. This is unusual as well as gratifying.”


The elegant theatre, lovingly referred to as “The Jewel of the Lakeshore”, presently serves as home to several local performing arts organizations, as well as national professional tours, arts education activities, and civic events.


All of this grew out of the vision and efforts of community leaders with the commitment of The Masquers, the local community theatre organization, to help in the project and become the first resident company.


Members of The Masquers, along with many additional community members and professional craftsmen, donated thousand of volunteer hours and materials to painstakingly restore the Capitol. Funding came from local businesses and individuals with a lead gift from Ruth St. John and John Dunham West. The vision was realized with the opening performance on October 30, 1987.


The value of the Capitol reaches beyond providing a home for performing arts. The Centre is a prime example of the economic value of historic preservation. The Capitol serves as an anchor for activity in the heart of historic downtown Manitowoc, the Manitowoc County seat. More than 60,000 people attend performances and activities at the Capitol each year.