In June 1930, just three years after successfully launching the Cape Playhouse, young Raymond Moore opened the Cape Cinema, "a new miniature talking picture theater deluxe."
Designed by Alfred Easton Poor (Wright Brother's Monument), who modeled the building’s façade on the Congregational Church in Centerville, Mass., the cinema’s colonial exterior housed an Art Deco-inspired auditorium containing 300 individual arm chairs of black lacquer and tangerine suede, purchased from the Frankl Gallery in New York.
The Cinema's crowning glory, however, was the mammoth 6,400 square foot mural vaulting its curved ceiling. Moore choose Rockwell Kent, one of America's most original and controversial artists, to design and execute this masterpiece. Money to pay for this treasure came from Mrs. Edna B. Tweedy, a wealthy widow who was Moore's behind-the-scenes benefactor before their secret marriage in 1935.
Kent and a young assistant, Ellen Goldsborough, did the overall design and detailed drawings at his studio in Ausable Forks, New York. Painting and installation was performed by Jo Mielziner, an outstanding scenic artist of the era. While Kent had vowed never to step foot in Massachusetts after the 1927 Sacco and Vanzetti trials, he did attend the opening of the cinema and was photographed signing the mural.
The mural portrays a modernistic concept of the heavens in shades of blue, gold and orange. Comets, galaxies and constellations are portrayed alongside pairs of embracing lovers and free-flying individuals who float through the imaginative firmament. The whole effect is one of vast galactic grandeur, color, and beauty.
On the stage Moore had a curtain installed which opened and closed like a Japanese screen. Kent decorated it with a golden sunburst and noted that the illuminated image cast from the projection booth would symbolize the light of the moon. Completed in the spring of 1930, the Cape Cinema’s mural is still among the largest in the U.S. and one of only five Kent did in his lifetime.