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96-year-old chandelier returned to Capitol Theatre

An original 1920s chandelier has been returned to Nelson’s Capitol Theatre.

The chandelier is one of two original artifacts remaining from when the theatre was built in 1927.  

It is unknown how and when the fixture left the theatre, but its identical twin also parted ways with the building sometime before 1970. 

Allison Girvan, the community engagement coordinator for the Capitol Theatre, explained that in the 1980s the building underwent a restoration process as it was beginning to fall into disrepair.  

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Both fixtures hanging in the Capitol Theatres’ Gallery. To the right is the first chandelier that was returned in the ’80s
Photo credit: Vista staff

Girvan says the first chandelier was returned and reinstalled at the theatre shortly after restoration was complete, but she could not specify when.

In January of this year the theatre received an email from Mike Mana, who claimed to have a second chandelier. He believed that it originated from the Capitol. 

In the email, Mana explained that his family had a chandelier hanging in his living room in Red Rock, south of Prince George, throughout his teen years, which he thought could belong to the Capitol. 

Mana’s father once owned an antique shop in Kelowna many years ago, and at some point, had two antique chandeliers in the store. 

He knew that one of the chandeliers was gifted to his family, but to his knowledge, the other remained in the store. 

Before her passing in 2022, Mana’s 101-year-old mother in-law, who grew up in Nelson, told him about the theatre’s restoration in the ‘80s.  

She said she had some of the original items from when the building first opened. The conversation is what prompted Mana to reach out to the theatre in January to try and reunite it with its original home while they were downsizing after her death.  

Girvan says the details on how the first chandelier was returned aren’t clear but someone involved in the theatre’s restoration was able to track it down in Mana’s father’s store and brought it back home.

“The best we can understand is that these were both in Kelowna at some point, but when they went to get it to bring it back there was only one left. The other one was hanging in a 1970s living room in Red Rock.” 

How both the artifacts parted ways with the theatre is unknown to Girvan, who says up until recently they believed the second one just disappeared.  

“There are photos from the late ‘20s where there are two chandeliers hanging, so we always knew there was a second one we just thought it had disappeared over the course of time, either destroyed or just gone completely. It was a shock to say the least when somebody reached out, out of nowhere, saying they had a chandelier from the theatre.”  

Girvan says the timing was ironic, because the theatre had been the victim of multiple scam attempts by individuals claiming to have antiques like Mana’s that belonged to the theatre but were seeking payment in exchange. 

Mike Mana and his mom under the chandelier in July 2023 when it was returned to the Capitol.
Photo courtesy of Allison Girvan.

She said she knew Mana’s claim was truthful when he included information about it once being in his home in Red Rock. 

“At the time the scam emails were happening, but when we got this email it was only the message that included Red Rock. That made me feel like it was not a scam. It was pretty specific and sounded like the real deal.” 

As far as its condition, Girvan says the artifact was well preserved. Mana’s father re-wired it in the ‘70s when it was hanging at the Red Rock home. Downsizing was the only reason the family decided to part ways with it.  

The two chandeliers are unique to their time, with clouded glass on the lower section of the fixture with faux candles and chandelier bulbs located on the top. Regular bulbs occupy the central housing area of the fixtures, which Girvan says makes them very distinctive.  

“The style is not something I’ve seen very often at all. It’s not the style that leaps to mind when you think chandelier with dropping jewels and things. It’s very much the art deco kind of vibe.” 

The second chandelier was brought back to the theatre in July when the family returned to the area for a memorial service for Mana’s mother-in-law.  

It now hangs in the theatre gallery, lined up with its twin on the far side of the top floor. 

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