Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center

Strand-Capitol at Night • Order A Print

The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center is truly a community gem, both for its contribution to the local arts culture as well as its contribution to the downtown streetscape. The Strand and Capitol are actually two distinct structures, even though they have the appearance of one from the outside. The Capitol Theatre is the older of the two, constructed in 1917. It is designed in the Renaissance Revival Style, as evidenced by the formal design, rusticated ground level, distinct horizontal divisions, and roof balustrade. Note the ornate details, including fluted pilasters, window pediments, and round windows. Next door stands the Strand Theatre, built in 1925. While it nicely complements the Capitol—incorporating similar features, it is also a different architectural style, typical of movie houses built during the Beaux Arts period.

At one time the Strand-Capitol was the cultural center of the York community. From vaudeville to silent films to "talking pictures," the center was a popular gathering place for the greater York area. Unfortunately, the migration to suburbia greatly affected the theaters, and in 1977 they were permanently closed and scheduled for demolition to make way for a parking lot. Fortunately, a group of community leaders banded together to save and renovate the structures, and the rejuvenated Strand-Capitol reopened in 1980. In 1989, local architect NuTec Design was commissioned to restore the façade and add new marquees, poster boxes, and ticket window true to the theaters’ origins. Today, The Strand-Capitol is undergoing another renaissance, including increased seating in the Strand, enlarged stage and backstage, and new construction along Philadelphia Street. If you think the outside is beautiful, step inside: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

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© 2002 by Scott D. Butcher

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