History of the Fulton

The Grand Old Lady of Prince Street

In 1852 the Lancaster community celebrated the opening of Fulton Hall. Now, 160 years later, we continue to celebrate this treasure of the community. 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 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 Opera House Foundation has evolved into the vibrant arts organization that today creates all the productions that appear on its stage, which serving over 130,000 people annually. Thousands more are served through the programs of the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, which also makes the Fulton their home. In 1995 the Fulton completed an extensive $9.5 million renovation of the historic building.

The Fulton has inspired the hearts of millions. Thank you for making it a treasured part of your history.