The Strand-Capitol announces the Appell Center for the Performing Arts

Alyssa Pressler

The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center announced Thursday it will honor Louis J. Appell Jr. by operating under a new organizational banner.

Louis Appell Jr. at his home in York.

The Appell Center for the Performing Arts will be the umbrella for the performance spaces within the building. This means that audiences will still visit the Strand Theatre, the Capitol Theatre and the Studio for performances, films and classes, all of which will fall under the Appell Center for the Performing Arts.

Strand-Capitol President and CEO Todd Fogdall announces that the Appell Center for the Performing Arts will be the umbrella for the performance spaces within the building. Alyssa Pressler photo

Appell, his father Louis Appell Sr. and his grandfather, Nathan Appell, built the Strand Theatre in 1925. The Appell family has since been closely involved with the Strand-Capitol. Appell Jr. was part of the effort in the 1970s to save the two theaters and renovate them into the buildings the community sees today.

"We literally would not be what we are today, we wouldn't be standing where we are today, without the Appell family," said President and CEO Todd Fogdall.

Appell, a prominent local businessman and philanthropist, passed away June 27. Appell was the former president and CEO of Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff, a pottery business that started in 1889. Appell was regarded as a major contributor to downtown York, so much so that Downtown Inc named its lifetime achievement award after him and his wife, Jody.

Honoring legacy: The announcement was made from the stage of the Strand Theatre, looking out into the audience. To further honor Appell, his seat and his wife's seat in the audience were illuminated.

Strand-Capitol Board Chair Eric Menzer said the management team is working on the details of implementing the new name and brand, for which there will be an official roll-out and celebration in May.

In attendance at the announcement were community members and elected officials, including President and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance Kevin Schreiber, York City Mayor Kim Bracey and state Rep. Kristin Hill-Phillips, R-York Township.

Friends, business leaders mourn loss of Appell

Schreiber said he felt the name change was fitting for Appell's legacy. He recalled Appell tapping him on the shoulder while he and his wife, Jen, were at a show once and telling him to keep up the good work.

"It didn't matter the show; he was always here," Schreiber said.

The family is supportive of the decision to include the Appell name to the Performing Arts Center.

"Nothing made Louis happier than to see a full house the night of the show," the family said in a statement.

The future: Fogdall and Menzer said they hope to continue Appell's legacy in their work with the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center. Menzer said Appell was always focused on including future generations in initiatives.

Menzer told the story of a loud rock-and-roll concert Appell attended with his wife shortly after the CapLive concert series was created to reach younger audiences. When Menzer asked what Appell thought of the show, Appell paused before saying, "It's great to see new people here."

"He was someone who was smart enough and visionary enough to think about the next generation of leaders," Menzer said, pointing out that many people in leadership positions only focus on "the now."

To further Appell's legacy, Fogdall said, the management team is hoping to take the impact the Strand-Capitol has had on York City and spread that throughout the county. He mentioned becoming more dynamic in the types of shows offered and increasing the number of shows at the Strand and Capitol theaters.

Menzer agreed with Fogdall, saying they plan to continue to announce exciting and diverse shows.

"I think the future is really bright," Menzer said. "I'm excited to be involved."