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interior of the Stand Theater audience gallery in the Appell Center. gold accents on white walls with blue picture frame mouldings, brown seats
Appell Center for the Performing Arts

Creating a Unified Performing Arts Block

Project Location

York, PA


26,000 SF new; 59,000 SF renovated


Architecture, engineering, interiors, preservation, theater design


Historic York Preservation Award, 2003

The revitalization of the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in York, Pennsylvania expands one of the region’s key cultural assets and rejuvenates two historic theaters–the highly ornamented, Adams-style, 1,267-seat Strand Theatre, which opened in 1925 as a venue for vaudeville and silent film, and the 600-seat Capitol Theatre, built in 1906 as a single-level dance hall and opera house.

Our design creates a unified performing arts block within a prominent historic district by integrating previously disparate structures and new building additions. Respecting the historic context of the district, new additions are composed of complementary materials and a design vocabulary that harmonizes with the original historic façades.

The project encompassed restoration and adaptive reuse of four varied landmark structures, new construction of three complementary building additions, insertion of new mechanical and electrical infrastructure, and upgrades to life safety and performance audio and theatrical systems. Work on the Strand Theatre focused on restoration of the exterior façade and the complete revitalization of the theater’s interior, including decorative ornament. The creation of a 250-seat mezzanine balcony added seating and provided new space for patron amenities such as a dress circle and rooms overlooking the street. To support the Strand Theatre, the project annexed two other landmark buildings, doubling the venue’s lobby space and providing amenity space for concessions, a box office, catering facilities, and toilets. Enhancements to the adjacent Capitol Theatre included stage expansion, backstage improvements, renovation of the balcony, and restoration of the proscenium. Additions provided patron amenities, a new rehearsal hall, and several multi-purpose spaces that serve the entire complex.

In the Media

In The Details

Saving the Stage

July 6, 2023

"With popcorn in hand and a cold soda to wash it down, it’s time to roll the tape on a very unique small-town movie complex that almost became a parking lot." Accidentally Wes Anderson shares the story behind saving two theaters.

Read More

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