The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center encompasses five buildings, including its two historic theaters – the Capitol Theatre, built in 1906 as a one-level dance hall and the Strand Theatre, which opened in 1925 primarily for vaudeville and silent movies.
What is now the Capitol Theatre was once known as The Theatorium. The name was later changed to “The Jackson.” During 1917, the theater was remodeled, adding a balcony exclusively for the showing of films. Nathan Appell and Louis Appell, Sr., who built the Strand Theatre, bought The Jackson in 1926, remodeled it again and reopened it as the Capitol in 1927. With an approximate seating capacity of 600, the theater continued as a popular movie house until it closed in 1977.
Designed by E.C. Horn & Sons and costing more than $1 million, the 1,200 seat Strand was a glittering example of Italian Renaissance architecture with its marble terrazzo floors, graceful archways and ornate decorative details – 1,800 pounds of gold leaf, 100 pounds of bronze and 4,000 pounds of ribbon gold in pilaster moldings. Murals designed by Hungarian artist Willy Pogany adorned the north and south walls of the auditorium. The seats were originally upholstered in Spanish leather and a spectacular 2,800-pound crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling. The Strand prospered during the days of silent film in the Roaring 20s, withstood the Depression in the 30s and continued to show movies until the birth of shopping centers and the residential growth of suburbia. As businesses suffered downtown, difficult times faced many of the downtown movie theaters, including the Strand. In February of 1976, the Strand closed.
In the spring of 1976, a movement to renovate and re-open the Strand began. A group of York business leaders and professionals formed an ad hoc committee to determine the feasibility of establishing a performing arts center in downtown York. The committee conducted surveys to document the community’s desire for cultural events. The concept was met with support and enthusiasm at all levels of the community.
The planning and renovations took four years and on April 12, 1980, the Strand Theatre re-opened its doors. The Capitol Theatre re-opened in May 1981 showing classic and contemporary films, hosting smaller shows and presenting concerts on the restored 1927 “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ.
The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center completed a two-year, $18.1 million facility renovation and expansion project in September, 2003. The project increased the Strand’s stage and backstage support areas, enlarged the Strand lobby with expanded concession and hospitality areas, added a balcony, new seating, an educational wing and provided new HVAC equipment.
Today, the Strand-Capitol continues to make renovations to continually improve the visitor experience and preserve the beauty and integrity of the historic buildings and community landmarks. Most recently, the theatres received new roofs and the building heating and cooling system was upgraded to improve efficiency and guest comfort. The support of members and Customers is crucial to the ongoing preservation and improvement of the Strand-Capitol. $1 from every ticket purchased helps maintain and preserve the buildings, ensuring the buildings survive and thrive and continue to be the home of dynamic performances.