Capitol Theatre and Stamford House


I fell in love with Stamford House mere days after we landed in Singapore. It’s a stunningly beautiful building, IMHO. I adore the building’s curved central pediment, gold tinted detailing, Venetian windows, and exquisitely-wrought cast iron grilles.

The adjacent Capitol Building, which houses the Capitol Theatre, is “eclectic neo-Classical” and is characterized by its ponderous colonnades and wide overhang. The Theatre has quite an incredible history, as a cinema hall, a teen hangout, and a food depot.

These historic structures inspire me nearly every day. I walk past them on my way to and from the library or Singapore Art Museum or Bras Basah Complex or the City Hall MRT.

o o o o o

When we arrived in Singapore, Stamford House’s arcade was home to a number of well-curated apparel and lifestyle boutiques. Today, all three buildings are abandoned but will soon—by 2014—be redeveloped into a hotel/theatre/retail/residential complex. Thankfully, these buildings have been “gazetted” for conservation, meaning that at least the buildings’ facades and other architectural features must be maintained to ensure the buildings’ historical integrity.

6 responses

  1. I’ve always admired the structure of Stamford House, too. It was sad to learn the boutiques had closed.

    As for Capitol building, I never could imagine it as a teenage hangout back then, although I’ve been told of many tales. The buildings in the City Hall/Bras Basah district are truly beautiful. Sure hope they stick around for a really long time. Have such cherished memories all over the place.

    PS: Lovely images!

  2. Yes, gorgeous pictures! I remember when it used to be a bona fide cinema – yes, I watched “Dirty Dancing” for the first time here. It was rundown, but how I long to welcome the Capitol as it used to be: the unfurling movie billboard (hand-painted, possibly an extinct art by now) that marked the entry into Orchard Road, circle and stall tickets sold by old ladies who scrawled your seat number on a paper ticket using a red pencil, peanuts and other local snacks sold in paper cones by an Indian uncle. Even further back, the Magnolia Snack Bar on the ground floor was where everyone’s parents went on dates as teenagers.

    When we were 14, my friends and I went to the Capitol to watch “Raising Cain” by John Lithgow (awful – only bearable at that age). Shivani and I always wondered where the other floors, as represented by the elevator buttons, led to in the building – it looked like just a two-storied structure from the outside. So we got in and hit floor number four, and the elevator cranked up, very unhappy to be put in work. It stopped with a heave, and very slowly, the doors separated to reveal…

    …an entire storeroom of old movie props, mannequins, masks, and other stage memorabilia that, when dusty and covered with spiderwebs and looming in partial shadows, are even scarier when least expected. We screamed, jabbed the ground floor button as the doors took a million years to shut again, then composed ourselves before they reopened and told our other friends of what a lame adventure that was. Crap that people didn’t need anymore stored in a small room – pshaw!

  3. I fondly recall watching many movies at Capitol, as we called it, and buying books at MPH at Stamford House was a rare treat.

    Thanks for bringing back the lovely memories. I love your close-up shots.

  4. Stamford House Arcade sounds familiar, but I cannot remember. I’m sure if I go back in a couple of years, I wouldn’t even recognize it. The images are beautiful!!