Monday, September 5, 2011

Old booklet for Harrisburg's Capital Roller Rink

Here's a fun piece of ephemera to get things rolling again on the blog (pun possibly intended). It's an undated and staplebound eight-page booklet touting Capital Roller Rink in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Best guess is that it's from the early 1950s.

Capital Roller Rinker had its grand opening on September 3, 1948, according to this short article from the October 16, 1948, issue of The Billboard:
"More than 1,000 skaters plus 300 spectators attended the September 3 opening of Capital Roller Rink, located outside the city limits of Harrisburg on Hershey Road, according to Carl J. Taggesell, Capital professional.

"Capital, operated by A.L. Runk, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is a 93 by 225-foot brick building with an 88 by 193-foot skating surface.

"Opening night program featured special numbers and exhibitions by skaters from Pottstown, Pa., and Mechanicsburg. A new electric organ has been installed, with Mrs. Stone, formerly of Pittsburgh, at the console.1 Capital is a member of the Roller Skating Rink Operators' Association of the United States. Skating classes are under the direction of Taggesell."
The blue booklet has a bonanza of great period details, including:
  • The rink was open for public skating from 8 to 11 p.m. every evening (except Mondays). There were skating matinees from 2 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • The rink featured Hammond organ music.
  • Here's an excerpt from Runk's letter on the first page of the booklet: "There are thousands of skating rinks in the United States, a fact that proves the skating public wants a clean, well managed Rink for their enjoyment. ... The management sincerely hopes that our many patrons will cooperate and thusly we can maintain a fine reputation that you will enjoy and your friends and children may also learn to enjoy with you. I assure you this is our policy -- to give you a clean wholesome skating rink in a refined atmosphere for your skating pleasure."
  • The following dress regulations were required, in order to maintain the rink's standards:
    • GENTLEMEN: Men are permitted to wear sport shirts with or without ties. We suggest a tie be worn with dress shirt. Sweaters permitted if worn over sport or dress shirt. Dungarees or T shirts will not be allowed.
    • LADIES: Ladies are permitted to wear dress slacks, skating costumes finger-tip length and street clothes. Blue jeans, pedal pushers and shorts will not be allowed. Neatness of dress is appreciated and we ask that it be adhered to at all times.
  • The rink's conduct rules ban smoking on the skating surface (but apparently not elsewhere in the rink). Also, the rules state: "Positively no intoxicating liquors allowed on premises. Intoxicated persons will not be admitted. Vulgar, profane or lewd talk will not be permitted."
  • The general-admission price was 25 cents, with "Floor Service" costing either 10 cents or 35 cents, depending on the session.

If you're interested in more about roller-skating ephemera, Mel Kolstad recently had a great blog entry on this topic on Ephemeraology. And here's a link to a wonderful and wide-ranging collection of more than 100 roller-skating labels and logos on Flickr.

I'd especially be interested in hearing any memories that people having of Capital Roller Rink in Harrisburg. How long did it remain open? How did evolve as an entertainment center over the decades? What is that building being used for now? I'd love to know more of this slice of history on wheels.

1. Here's what I pictured in my head when I read of Mrs. Stone the organ player. Big-time points if you can identify that reference.


  1. Wonderful blog! A 'place' showing material dear to my heart!

    A dealer in ephemera for 25+ and a collector for twice as long

  2. Chris,Where did you find this booklet!? I was cleaning out my closet this morning, and dug through a box of my grandfather's business items and came across a paper embosser (seal) of the Capital Roller Rink.(dated 1947) He used to co-own the place! Googled it and found your blog! Awesome write-up!

  3. The building houses Tyco Electronics now:

    1. Sharon B. Glassygal@aol.comDecember 1, 2013 at 7:37 AM

      Thanks for posting the picture of the building! It still looks awesome! I think I have some of the excess glass bricks in my possession. They were in with my grandfather's things in the basement.

  4. Can you imagine 1,300 people at at skating rink now?? Great find!