News

York's Strand Capitol gets a new name

Written by Gary Haber/York Daily Record | Dec 16, 2016 7:46 AM
Louis_appell_Thank-You-Sign.jpg

The marque at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center displays a message -- "Thank you Louis Appell" -- reflecting the community's response to the beloved York businessman. (Photo: Courtesy Terry Downs)

Appell, who died in June, was a major supporter of the downtown performing arts center

(York) -- The Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center in downtown York will be renamed the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, in honor of the late Louis Appell Jr. and his family's three generations of involvement with the performing arts venue.

While the name of the organization that operates the 1,262-seat Strand and the 450-seat Capitol will change, the two theaters will retain their current names, said Todd Fogdall, the Strand Capitol's CEO. The change is slated to go into effect in May.

Details about any changes in the signage outside the complex are yet to be determined, he said.

Appell, a York County businessman and philanthropist who died in June at age 92, helped lead a group of local civic leaders who rallied to save the Strand and Capitol theaters when they were in danger of being torn down for a parking lot in the late 1970s.

"It was Louis Appell who said we can't let this happen," Fogdall said in an interview Thursday morning before the name change was publicly announced.

Instead of being razed, the theaters were renovated and reopened in April 1980 with a performance by jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, backed by the York Symphony Orchestra.

Appell became the first chairman of the Strand Capitol's board of directors and was, with his wife, Jody,  a fixture at performances there.

He had a family connection to the two theaters.

His grandfather and father built the Strand in 1925. In 1926, they bought and redid the Jackson theater next door, which they opened as the Capitol, the following year..

"We felt like the most important thing we could do was to put his name and his family's name on one of the icons of downtown York," Fogdall said of the name change.

Watch: Todd Fogdall on Strand Capitol changing its name to Appell Center for the Performing Arts Gary Haber, York Daily Record

It isn't in recognition of any bequest to the Strand Capitol by Appell, but in recognition of the family's long involvement with the theaters, Fogdall said.

Stand Capitol officials had broached the idea with Appell of changing the organization's name to honor him. But Appell, who shunned the public spotlight, turned it down, Fogdall said.

This time, when they approached Jody Appell,  she was supportive, although she said it was something her husband wouldn't have agreed to.

"You know he wouldn't have wanted this, but I think it's perfect," was her response, Fogdall said.

Plans are being developed to renovate the Capitol. The scope of the renovations and their timing are yet to be determined, Fogdall said.

The goal is to ramp up programming at the Capitol to up to 200 nights a year.

"We see that as becoming a very vibrant and heavily used space over time," he said.

He lived a private life but Louis Appell was one of York County's most powerful figures. Sean Heisey, York Daily Record

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in News, York

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