Staging a comeback

A restored Capitol Theatre will help spur Flint’s revitalization

A black and white image of the exterior of Flint’s Capitol Theatre circa 1937.
Exterior of Flint’s Capitol Theatre circa 1937.

The following is a statement from Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, regarding the renovation of Flint’s historic Capitol Theatre. The project is funded, in part, with a $15 million grant from Mott.

It was in 1928, just two years after Charles Stewart Mott launched his foundation in Flint, that the city’s Capitol Theatre first welcomed audiences. Its Italian Renaissance-style architecture would echo over the coming decades with the sounds of people enjoying films, theatrical productions and musical acts ranging from classical and folk to rock and rap.

The Capitol is one of our hometown’s most iconic and enduring structures, and it occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of people in Genesee County and beyond.

Today, the Mott Foundation joins the community in celebrating the work underway to restore this local gem and return it to active use. We applaud The Whiting, a member organization of the Flint Cultural Center Corporation, and the Uptown Reinvestment Corporation for their collaborative efforts to return the Capitol to its rightful place in mid-Michigan’s arts and cultural community.

The Capitol Theatre’s ornate “atmospheric” style will be carefully restored. Photo: Adam Stoltman

People from across the region will once again come together in the Capitol’s ornate lobby, fill its 1,600 seats and delight in performances beneath its soaring ceiling. Newly constructed event space in the building will allow local groups and organizations to host performances and meetings for up to 200 people. The growing number of restaurants, stores and bars in the city center will benefit from theater patrons enjoying a night on the town, while the Capitol’s 20,000 square feet of commercial space will provide exciting new opportunities for area businesses and retailers. Like generations before them, young people in Flint will once again have a chance to train and work in the theater.

The Mott Foundation has long recognized the Capitol Theatre’s potential role in Flint’s revitalization. It’s one reason we decided to make a $15 million grant to the Flint Cultural Center Foundation to support the historic renovation. It’s also why we didn’t back away from that decision even after committing up to $100 million over the next five years to help the community respond to the water crisis.

In fact, the challenges presented by the crisis are exactly why projects like the Capitol Theatre are so important to Flint. We need to not only reboot, but redouble the forward momentum that was underway before the water crisis struck. By multiplying the reasons for people to live in, work in and visit the city, we’ll give new spark to the positive energy that will help Flint recover and rise from the crisis.

In short, we need to meet head on the challenges of the present, while embracing opportunities for a prosperous tomorrow. Seeing people and organizations work together to make headway on both fronts is worthy of everyone’s applause.