Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Centre

50 North George Street,
York, PA 17401

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BingSHB on April 17, 2013 at 1:10 am

The Capitol theater plays a new movie every 2 weeks it seems and usually just during the winter. One show Saturday night, one show Sunday afternoon. Lately, they’ve shown Anna Karenina, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, A Late Quartet, Rust and Bone, among others.

While I appreciate this theater still being open, just thought I’d be honest about a few problems: first, the seats on the main floor are terrible. Hard as a rock and I could see lots of people squirming throughout the movie. The seats on the balcony are much better. Second, I have yet to see a movie here without a problem occuring: sound dropping out or switching formats, boom mics having a cameo, going in and out of focus, movie stopping completely. During Perks, the movie stopped and when it restarted it was a scene 5 minutes later in the film. Perhaps most interesting was one movie (A Late Quartet) seemed to be a DVD being projected. I didn’t mind it that much because the movie wasn’t particularly good, but they should have made a note of it ahead of time.

If you like old theaters with the occasional hiccup in presentation, you might like it.

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