Hanover’s old State Theater: ‘Don’t lose hope, it’s not dead’

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The Hanover Theater renovations are party completed, but now on hold. (See additional photo below.) Background posts: Young Alan Alda performed along the Codorus? Researcher checking that out and Carrie Nation in York: ‘If you keep smoking those things …’ and Ella Fitzgerald’s show was ‘memorable, not Memorex’.

In the recent post Dallas Theatre perking along, but Stewartstown’s Ramsay Theatre: ‘It is really in bad shape’, an e-mailer lamented the deterioration of the old movie theater in that southeastern York County town. (Update, 11/22/14: The Dallas Theatre is also closed.)
Well, another venerable old building in Hanover was also in bad shape until recent years. An investment group had been pouring money into the Hanover Theater until it suspended renovations pending evidence of a downtown revitalization plan, according to the Hanover Evening Sun.
The Hanover Theater opened in 1928 and operated as the State Theater for years… .


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At one time, The Hanover Theater accommodated 950 moviegoers. Owners removed seats in the 1980s as part of plans to convert the building into an antique mall.
In 1986, it closed, investors worked to turn it into an antiques mall. That work was suspended and it most served as a warehouse until recent efforts to turn it into a performing arts center, the Sun reported.
At least, renovations thus far have included a roof, the most important part of an old building.
“Don’t lose hope, it’s not dead,” the project’s manager says.
Here’s how the Evening Sun story (1/8/09) begins:

The benefactors who hope to restore the Hanover Theater to its former glory as a performing arts center have put the project on hold until Hanover leaders have a more solid plan of revitalizing the borough’s downtown.
Dave Leske, Hanover Theater general manager, said this week that the not-for-profit investors – a loosely knit group of builders, designers and planners in the region – notified just before the Christmas holidays that they decided to halt funding improvements to the project. They first want to see actual results “and not a plan that is put on a shelf” from a downtown revitalization initiative launched by the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce in September.
The benefactors, who operate under the name “Casual Arts” and wish to remain anonymous, typically work in communities that are within 500 miles of either Washington, D.C., or New York City, according to their Web site http://casualarts.info.
Leske and his wife, Stacie Johnson, fell in love with the theater in June 2007 while visiting here from their home in Richmond, Va. Later that year, Casual Arts formed Historic Hanover Theater LLC and purchased the building, where the Leskes now live. So far, the organization sunk about a half-million dollars into the project to buy the building and fix its roof and electrical systems, Leske said.
He said the building needs another $2 million to $3 million dollars to fully restore it. Causal Arts had earlier hoped to have the restoration completed by December 2009. He said the project will take about a year to 18 months to complete as soon as any money is available.

Photos courtesy of the Hanover Evening Sun.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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