Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Centre

50 N. George Street,
York, PA 17401

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tfogdall on October 12, 2017 at 2:35 pm

The Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center was renamed the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in May 2017. The naming was in honor of three generations of leadership and support from the Appell family – starting with Nathan Appell and Louis Appell Sr., who built the Strand Theatre in 1925 and then purchased and renovated the Jackson Theatre, reopening it as a movie theater called the Capitol Theatre in 1926. The theater names remain unchanged.

Films are currently screened in the Capitol Theatre, typically on a weekly basis. Classics, family and indie films comprise the focus of current film programming.

As of the date of this submission, plans are underway for a renovation of the Capitol Theatre. Renovations will focus on improving customer comfort and amenities will retaining the classic feel of the theater.

LorinWeigard on May 9, 2016 at 11:35 pm

The Strand- Capitol Performing Arts Centre represents the very best of downtown revitalization and preserving historic theatre architecture.

I can’t begin to remember all the movies I saw at these two wonderful theatres; what I do remember most from those Stanley-Warner days was an elaborate changing letter marquee with chasing lights that spanned both theatres and was like a touch of “Broadway” in York.

What was been saved from the wrecking ball and revitalized into this Arts Centre is a textbook example of how it is done; the efforts of the many parties involved is worthy of a book or documentary film on preserving what America needs to value.

The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Centre is now home to so many varied and artistically wonderful events, both live personal appearances and classic films; my most recent experience is the York Symphony’s one-night presentation of Opera- Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutti”; based on that evening, I’m sure there will be many more to come.

These theatres, both architecturally distinctive, represent the best of what we have built, and through immeasurable effort and support, remain a vital and vibrant part of the artistic community.

BRAVO to all involved over the years, and I certainly hope to be a supporting member in keeping The Strand- Capitol Performing Arts Centre a vital part of the cultural offerings of the area.

My many thanks!

Eveler on November 12, 2015 at 8:33 pm

I worked as an usher in both of these movie houses in the early 50s when they and Ritz up past the square were Warner Brothers owned, along with the movie in Red Lion.

ThomasWolf on November 9, 2015 at 1:25 am

I worked at the Strand and sometimes sent to the Capitol in 1968. It was RKO Stanley Warner Theatre. The manager’s name was Sidney Poppay (not sure of spelling) I was 16. Before I got my license to drive Mr Poppay would take me home in the evenings after the Theatre closed. He lived in East York close to my parents house on Russell Street. The theatre was beautiful but was in hard times. He used to show me pictures of what it was like in it’s hayday. It was a spectacular theatre. I would say it was the most beautiful in the county. The ceiling and upper walls were heavily decorated . Origionally the mens room had a lot of facilities for men to make themselves more presentable during the days when you went to the movies in Sunday attire!. He showed me through the theatre back stage where it was amazing to see how the dressing rooms went up two spiral staircases. The AC unit was in the basement and was a huge piston machine. It kept the theatre very comfortable. The pay was 75cents and hour. No money but I loved it there. Sol Kesslers had a Magavox Stereo in the long lobby that we played WGAL FM easy listening music very low which created ambiance when strolling the long lobby past the Candy,Popcorn stand. Mrs Ruth operated the stand. The stairs to the right of the lobby took VIPs to the Loge. There were only few seats up there. Red drapes were around the Loge opening looking down on the main auditorium. I’m so glad it’s still there. Oh, Mr. Poppay also showed me plans that when the Strand was built, they could add a balcony like the Capitol had. The marquee was fabulous out front. I used to change the bulbs. The neon was wonderful and blinking lights greeted the guests. It was York’s leading showplace. I feel very fortunate I worked there and had a very memorable time. It’s a great treasure!!

dennisczimmerman on August 30, 2011 at 6:05 am

“The Sound of Music” played a special reserved seat engagement at the William Goldman Hiway Theatre which was located on West Market Street near the York Fair grounds. The auditorium portion of the theatre is still standing, but the facade, entrance, and lobby areas had been demolished. I think it is now part of the pewterex complex.

LNewnam on August 29, 2011 at 6:04 am

I went to many B-movies at the Dallas Theater in Dallastown in the mid 1960s. But it was the Strand or the Capitol in downtown York for James Bond (Thunderball, You Only Live Twice) , Jerry Lewis, Pink Panther or other first-run movies. I saw Easy Rider at the Strand or Capitol. I could never remember the differences, but they felt pretty up-town compared to Dallastown.

The Sound of Music? Strand or Capitol. That’s for sure. Great theaters.

spectrum on October 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

The Capitol Theatre now has its own page at /theaters/33971

GeorgeStrum on May 13, 2009 at 2:59 am

Theatre Historical Society of America will be visiting here on 7/09/09.

dennisczimmerman on April 19, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Just renewing my notification.

MichaelSug on April 5, 2009 at 11:57 pm

I saw my first movie (Mary Poppins) at the Strand as a kid in the 1960’s. Over the next ten years, until the theaters closed, I saw many, many films in these beautiful old theaters. The moves I saw there inspired a lifelong obsession with film and led to my moving to Los Angeles in the late 70’s to pursue work in the movie industry. I feel like I spent my whole childhood in the Strand/Capitol and the memories I have of these theaters are very meaningful to me. I’m so pleased the Strand and Capitol were saved and are still such a local treasure.

dennisczimmerman on March 14, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I would like to correct the Spectrum Oct. 17, 2007 comment. The Capitol Theatre is on the corner and the Strand Theatre is to the left of the Capitol. I lived in York in the mid 1960’s as I was going to college there at the time. The theatres were operated by Stanley Warner at the time. The Strand was a one floor with a long lobby. The Capitol had a balcony. The marquee’s at the time were connected as one by neon in between. It was a long marquee with each theatre having a face and one end. Until I attended movies there I also thought the Capitol was bigger than the Strand as it was larger from the view from the street and I also knew it had a balcony. I am so glad they did save the theatres. Lancaster, about 25 miles East of York, where I live, had four movie theatres downtown and they were all demolished in 1966-67.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 13, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The introductory paragraph on this page currently says that Reinhardt Dempwolf was the architect of the Strand. The theater’s official website attributes the Strand to E.C. Horn & Sons, as does spectrum in the comment of Oct 17, 2007, above.

Reinhardt Dempwolf was the architect of the Capitol Theatre. See this essay about J.A. Dempwolf Architects by Jim McClure, editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

teecee on November 23, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Cover story of the local Fly Magazine – November 2008 edition.

Article states that the Strand closed in 1976. After 4 year renovation, the complex reopened with the Strand in 1980 and the Capitol in 1981.

spectrum on October 18, 2007 at 4:00 am

According to the AFY Yearbook for 1936, the Capitol at that time seated 1,024 (now seats 600) and the Strand seated 1,300 (now seats 1,268). From the photos at their official website , the two theatres are side by side with the Strand occupying the corner of a block, the Capitol (with a narrower entrance) immediately to the left. Capitol’s facade is very neo-classical; the Strand’s has almost a late nickeoledeon look. The Strand was built in 1925, and E. C. Horn & Sons were the architects. has a lot of good photos taken during the restoration. They did a fantastic job! The new balcony looks like it was designed in 1925 – fits right in. The strand looks almost like the auditorium is piggybacked right on to the back end of the Capitol’s stagehouse, almost like the State and Palace in Cleveland. Capitol must have a long lobby… Capitol was previously known as the Theatorium and the Jackson.

1posterfan4sure on September 3, 2007 at 4:42 am

Just a suggestion: these are two separate theaters with different seating, styles and uses, although their histories are intertwined. Perhaps they should each have separate listings.

York is indeed fortunate to have saved these two theaters from the wrecker’s ball. Both had fallen from the heights of popularity to unspooling XXX flicks in the mid-70s. What a pathetic greeting that was for people coming into downtown York on North George Street. When the Strand closed in 1975 in a state of disrepair and the Capitol shuttered a year later, thank the lucky stars for a foreward-thinking mayor, John Krout, who championed the effort to get the city to purchase the properties from RKO Stanley Warner. There were a lot of naysayers. But I think Krout’s vision has been realized. The Strand and Capitol brought suburbanites into the city and sparked an interest in downtown where before there was none.

The recent $18 million renovations were great for the Strand, a theater with excellent accoustics and sightlines. Adding a small balcony and the stage improvements have enabled them to bring in somewhat larger performances. This was a former vaudeville theater turned movie house and is a great place to see a live performance. That said, however…

They should have left the Capitol alone. The recent “improvements,” while well-meaning, have utterly ruined it as a movie theater. When the Capitol was re-opened in the early 80s, little had been done to it beyond a thorough cleaning and reupholstering the downstairs seats. It was the same as it had been since the CinemaScope screen was installed in the 1950s. Keep in mind that the Capitol was built as a movie theater, not a vaudeville house, and had no stage. An elaborate proscenium arch, with a brick wall in between, had been covered for decades by floor to ceiling draperies and the ‘Scope screen, which was wider than the arch. A small stage was built out in front in the late 80s, as there is no room for a traditional stage in back. Part of the renovation was to remove the drapes and the 'Scope screen to uncover the arch, to return the theater to the way it looked originally. When I read that they were going to be using some sort of portable screen instead of a fixed one, I thought “uh oh…” and unfortunately my fears were realized.

I saw Orson Welles' “Touch of Evil” on the new portable screen. They still changeover projectors but must have large-capacity reels, as there was only one changeover, in the middle of the film. For the first half, the image on the left side was in focus, and the right side was not. After the changeover, the right side was in focus and the left side was not. I mean seriously out of focus. The image was dim all the way through. It’s a black and white movie. The whites should have been bright white. They were yellow. And for the first half, there was a loud buzz on the soundtrack. My wife, myself and our friend all had headaches by the end. There was no one to complain to, and what could they have done anyway at that point? We had paid an admission price comparable to commercial theaters and had to suffer through this kind of presentation. I was furious that they had ruined this once-fine movie theater by using a screen that they cannot correctly line-up with the projection booth, from side to side or top to bottom for that matter. I expressed my disappointment in a survey flyer after the movie, but I have never been back and have no intention to, and I used to go there a lot. I’m all for preservation and and historical originality, but they should have kept in mind that in order to uncover a useless decoration, attractive as it may be, they compromised what the Capitol had always been, a great place to see a movie.

TerryN on November 4, 2006 at 2:14 am

The Wurlitzer organ is actually in the Capitol Theatre. It is not the original instrument to the theatre. It was completely rebuilt and reinstalled by R.J. Brunner & Company, Organbuilders, following a major renovation of the complex. Pictures of the organ are at View link