History Of The Cinema

Building | Mural | Interior | Wizard of Oz

The Cape Cinema has been one the premier destinations for entertainment on Cape Cod since 1930 and continues to be committed remaining such. While most of the website features upcoming events ranging from movies and theatrical performances to concerts and the ballet, this page can fill you in on some of the building history.

The Building

The Cape Cinema has been entertinaing locals of Dennis and the rest of Cape Cod, Massachusetts for nearly one hundred years. The 1930 building was founded by Edna Tweeny and Raymond Moore just a couple years after the Cape Playhouse. The exterior of the cinema often confuses new guests who ask us how long the building has been a theater and when it stopped being a church. The funny thing is that the building has always been a cinema but was designed by Alfred Easton Poor who modeled it after the South Congregational Church which is located in Centerville, just a few towns over. The current owner of the Cape Cinema, Eric Hart, has been managing and running it since 1986 and even began hosting summer concerts in 2008.

Ceiling Mural

Inside the Art Deco theater itself, there is a 6,400 square foot mural covering the ceiling. This painting was inspired by Rockwell Kent's imagining of the heavens. Kent designed the image alongside Jo Mielziner who installed the canvas after it was painted. Their signatures can be found on the lower part of the mural, one on either side of the building. Kent himself was largely against comming back to Massachusetts for personal reasons, but did spend a few days directing its installation and came back years later to add his signature to the mural. In 1981 the murals got some restoration from conservators from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sadly, the murals are approaching the need for further restoration efforts.

Theater Interior

In addition to the original murals, much of the cinema has undergone various upgrades and restorations. This includes the addition of a digital projector, upgraded sound, accessibility options, and a new concessions stand. Most impressive is the recent work we have managed to do on the theater interior. There is a new carpet and track lighting to go with the major project we finished August, 2017. Over 300 seats are available for seating and they are all restored from the originals which were built by the Frankl Galleries in New York.

Wizard of Oz

Special within our history is the premiere of the Wizard of Oz in 1939. It is difficult for many to believe but we proudly hold a poster from one of the anniversaries of that premier in our lobby, right above the Box Office. Part of the difficulty is the conflicting information you may find online. Our premiere of the show took place on August 11th, 1939 which was one day previous to the technical world premiere. As one of three test markets, we played the film before anyone else and feature a showing every year on its anniversary. For those wondering, Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch of the West) was engaged at the Cape Playhouse at the time and arranged for the showing on Cape Cod, far away from the other test markets in Wisconsin.