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History

In 1852 the Lancaster community celebrated the opening of Fulton Hall. More than 150 years later, we continue to celebrate all that this “Grand Old Lady” has become. From a meeting hall, to the “Queen of the Roadhouses” through Vaudeville, the movies, near destruction, salvation and on to the cutting edge of contemporary theatre, the history of this majestic place literally chronicles the evolution of the American Stage.

The Fulton Opera House, considered to be the nation’s oldest continuously operating theatre, is one of only eight theatres to be named a National Historic Landmark. Many of the “greats” of the American and International stage have performed on her boards. The list is extensive and includes most of the Barrymore family, Sarah Bernhardt, W. C. Fields, Alfred Lunt, Al Jolson, and Irene Dunne, Mark Twain, a young actress named Helen Brown (later known as Helen Hayes), Marcel Marceau and hundreds more.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 1963 during the infancy of the regional theatre movement, the Fulton has matured and evolved as a vibrant arts organization creating new works and serving over 100,000 people annually through all programs. Thousands more are served through the programs of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra and Opera Lancaster, who call the Fulton their home. In 1995, in a further commitment to the work on the stage, the Fulton completed an extensive $9.5 million renovation of the historic building.