architects   designers   planners

Fulton Opera House

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
The Fulton Opera House is the oldest continually operating theatre in the United States. Built in 1852 by Master Architect Samuel Sloan, this Italianate gem has since undergone three major renovations. In 1873, the distinguished Philadelphian Edwain Forrest Durang, grandson of America’s first native-born actor, reshaped the hall as a Victorian theatre with a horseshoe shaped stepped balcony. In 1904, the interior was again renovated into a neo-classic design. The roof was raised, a second balcony added, and the proscenium stage was expanded. The five level 33,100 s.f. theatre is presently used as a Performing Arts Center and serves as a home to a professional theatre company.

Edward D. Francis, FAIA, Principal in Charge and Historic Architect, was retained by the Fulton Opera House Foundation to develop a comprehensive Master Plan in recognition of extensive safety and technical deficiencies in the facility. Though the emphasis of the Master Plan focused on resolving code violations and issues of public safety, care was taken to recommend strategies that would improve operating efficiency and accommodate a planned expansion for new programming.

Completed in 1995, the theatre has undergone complete interior and exterior renovation in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s guidelines; upgrading of all theatre technical systems inclusive of stage lighting and rigging; updating of all code and life safety systems; and expanded by 15,500 s.f. to provide additional lobby area, support facilities, offices, increased wing space, dressing rooms, and rehearsal rooms. 

Projects completed under Kessler Associates.