As the old saying goes, the show must go on. And now that the Capitol Theatre has officially been purchased, it will.
Robert Fury, a real estate investor who moved to Unicoi last May, bought the historic Erwin theater for $100,000 with plans to renovate it into a live music venue. Fury, Rhonda Williamson and Justin Valentine will serve as the venue’s management team.
“What we want to do is turn it into the best live music in the whole area, and we think we can pull really big acts, like Nashville-quality acts, here,” Fury said.
The Capitol Theatre opened in 1940, and served as a family-owned movie theater until the roof was damaged by heavy snowfall in December 2018. The cost of repairs to the roof were too high for the previous owner to repair, and so the theater closed its doors for good.
The cost of the necessary repairs are not lost on Fury, either.
“We actually knew that stuff before we even finalized the purchase, so this is gonna cost a lot of money,” said Fury. “This thing is gonna have to have sprinkler systems, it’s gonna have to be brought up to all current codes, electrical, plumbing, so it’s a lot of work and a lot of money.”
Fury said the people interested in buying the theater before him were quoted $150,000 to fix the roof, but based on his experience with flipping houses, he believes it can be repaired for less money. Fury said he is not sure how much in total it will cost to repair and renovate the theater, but that he’s willing to pay what it takes.
“We’re gonna aim for an end product that we all love, that Justin, me and my girlfriend (Rhonda) love, and that the city will love, and that’s what we’re gonna go for,” said Fury. “And it’s gonna take as much money as that takes to get us there.”
Fury said he plans to renovate the stage and add seating and a dance floor, while also creating a balcony space. On the second level of the building, he plans to create office space as well as an Airbnb for visitors to stay in.
“It’s gonna be a really awesome project, and it’s gonna be a lot of hard work and there’s gonna be a lot of mistakes being made,” he said.
Fury said he hopes to get local businesses to sponsor the project to help with the expected costs, and he hopes the public will want to help with the manpower.
“If anybody out there is willing to, or wants to, more accurately, if they want to help out, we would definitely take their time,” said Fury.
Fury hopes to hold shows in the Capitol Theatre as soon as October 2022, but he said that date is apt to change as he sees the full scope of the needs of the building during the repair and renovation process.
To keep up-to-date with the theater’s progress or for more information, follow it on Facebook at Erwin Capitol Theatre.