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Lancaster-based Excelsior plans winter upgrades

Excelsior, an event venue in Lancaster City, will hold a total of 71 events by the end of 2016, and about 50 of them are weddings. In this file photo from March, elegant table settings await guests at a celebration commemorating the final episode of the popular British series "Downton Abbey." Excelsior partnered with local PBS station WITF to host the event. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

A term still commonly used by John and Kelly Dantinne as they approach a year on opening an event venue in downtown Lancaster City is “sweat equity.”

Ideas for possible upgrades to the nearly 200 year old building are never-ending, and with winter approaching, the Dantinne’s have several projects planned for February to upgrade the historic event space known as Excelsior.

Excelsior, at 125 E. King St., is now one building totaling 35,500 square feet that is made up of three separate structures that date back to 1852 and 1873.

The couple has been doing a lot of “hands-on” work to maintain the building and host events.

“That’s what it takes to start,” Kelly Dantinne said.

Here’s the run down on Excelsior since it opened in February from Kelly Dantinne.

It’s not just for weddings

Excelsior will hold a total of 71 events by the end of 2016, and about 50 of them are weddings.

Other events include business meetings, high school proms and surprise milestone birthdays.

There are 54 weddings booked for 2017, and already four booked for 2018.

The weddings typically average about 160 guests, and the space can hold up to 275 for a formal, seated dinner.

Wedding packages typically range from $30,000 to $60,000, but more affordable weddings are available during off-seasons where the total can come in as low as $12,000 with a limited headcount, Dantinne said, noting that they don’t want the rumor floating around that Excelsior is unaffordable.

Even in the off-season of winter, the ambiance in the building has something to offer guests, according to Dantinne.

“Even when it’s snowing, it’s pretty and magical,” Dantinne said.

The Dantinne’s have not hired any additional staff yet to work with them at events, but they have an extensive list of vendors that they work with to make it all happen such as Chester County-based Jimmy Duffy & Sons Inc. for catering and Lancaster-based Shumaker PDT for event lighting.

Construction is coming

Amy Spangler

In February Excelsior will close for repairs and improvements, such as polishing the floors and adding a sound system.

Excelsior is adding a sound system to better comply with the city noise ordinance.

Music, coming from DJ’s or bands, has to come to a hard stop at 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 p.m. on Saturday, and the Dantinnes have already found ways to contain noise within the building such as adding storm windows.

Excelsior compensates for the early evening by pointing guests to the many bars within walking distance on its block, such as Altana, within 26|East, and Annie Baileys.

You’re invited

There are several upcoming public events.

On Nov. 10, another Lancaster business – Fig Industries – is hosting a launch party at Excelsior for the marketing agency’s holiday publication. Fig and Excelsior are expecting 600 attendees for the drop-in celebration, which costs $11 per person.

It’s hosting a Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 19. It is placing a 16-foot tree in its front courtyard, which will be viewable by the street.

There also might be a special event happening in February, Dantinne said, but she couldn’t spill yet.

She and John’s goal from the beginning was to be more than just a wedding venue. They wanted Excelsior to be another gathering place for the people of Lancaster.

“It’s really everything we dreamed of,” Dantinne said.

Related Slideshow: Excelsior hosts a Downton Abbey Farewell

Lenay Ruhl

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