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Pa. theater may be key to revitalized downtown

January 21, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Judith Wolfe, new managing director of the Capitol Theatre, said Tuesday that her challenge will be to turn the old theater into a central point of a revitalized downtown Chambersburg.

"This job gives me the opportunity to draw upon all of my skills and experience and on my commitment to historic preservation," Wolfe said.

The Capitol, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary on Feb. 3, will become home to local arts organizations as a major community arts center, Wolfe said.

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She will coordinate the more than 100 volunteers in the Alliance for the Capitol Theatre, a group made up of seven committees appointed by Downtown Chambersburg Inc. to help renovate and operate the theater.

Wolfe, 44, was hired by Downtown Chambersburg Inc., said Paul Cullinane, executive director of the nonprofit downtown revitalization group.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc. bought the 70-year-old theater from Gordon and Marlene Madison in September for $100,000, Cullinane said. The money came from a donation from the Wood Foundation of Chambersburg. The foundation has long supported the arts in the community, he said.

The Madisons owned and operated the theater for 16 years, frequently bringing in big name entertainers and bands to perform in Chambersburg.

Wolfe said she will continue the policy as a way to make money for the Capitol.

In addition to big name performers, the theater will show movies, offer live theater, and concerts and recitals by local performers and bands.

Cullinane said the building will need about $250,000 for new wiring, roof repairs, and restoration and addition of seats to bring the capacity to 850 patrons. Restrooms will be added and dressing rooms renovated, he said.

Volunteers have been cleaning chandeliers and the decorative panels that cover the pipes of the original Moller organ, Wolfe said.

"There is a real community here in Chambersburg," Wolfe said. "It's a pleasure to work with such high-powered and competent volunteers."

Wolfe, who lives in Fayetteville, Pa., has business management experience, has worked with paid and volunteer boards and committees and managed nonprofit real estate associations such as homeowners groups and condominium associations, Cullinane said.

The theater, which has been dark during January for the first time since 1948, will reopen on Feb. 7.

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