New Strand

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Following the 1937 fire that destroyed the original Strand Theatre, William Shriver decided he would rebuild his theatre as the finest boardwalk theatre on the boardwalk. Using the architect Armand Carroll of Philadelphia, he designed a new theatre for the premium location at 9th and Boardwalk. The corner had previously been home to a carousel.

see Strand Construction

The old Strand burned down in the fall of 1937. The new theatre opened for business on a hot, sunny August 11, 1938 with Jack Senior as the manager and Fred Rest as the projectionist. Adult tickets sold for 55 for the evening show, "Give Me a Sailor", staring Bob Hope and Martha Raye. (45 for the matinee). The day's total attendance was 1,539. Even though the Strand was the first new theater on the boardwalk since 1922, it did not have the most attendance that night.  The Moorlyn outsold the Strand with their picture, "Mother Carey's Chickens" (2,804 tickets sold).  Still, the Strand was modern luxury, with air conditioning, compared to the Moorlyn.

As the excited customers filed in, owner William Shriver and general manager Roscoe Faunce inspected the new building, admiring the fancy appointments of their shiny theater.  There had been a rush to get the theater open before the summer slipped away.  The blue glass block wall in the lobby, imported from Belgium, was almost delayed due to the growing problems in Europe.  Electricians were still installing wires in the projection room that morning as a baby parade was conducted outside. 

The new Strand theatre seated 1,450, including twin balconies. The outer lobby was a large area with one wall of blue glass block. Couches, tables and upholstered chairs lined the lobby. Back-lit portraits of Hollywood stars were set into the southern wall.

The outer lobby opened into the inner standee space, just behind the auditorium seats. This large space offered lots of room for people walking to and from their seats.

The auditorium walls had large horizontal bands that curved into the proscenium, wrapping around columns on either side of the stage. A curved island hung just below the ceiling and hid the colored auditorium lights and air conditioning grills.

The curved bands led to the beautiful silk curtain with the painted image of Neptune on it.  If you looked closely you could see where it was widened to cover a CinemaScope screen, and you could also see the places where the hurricane of 1962 had flooded the theatre.  Each night, as the show was about to start, the stage lights would change color, the auditorium would shift from light to dark, to red, to blue, and the curtain would open and the show would begin.

 

Like the other boardwalk theatres, the air conditioning system was a deep well that pumped cold water from the ground, circulated it through copper coils, and discharged it into the ocean. The ductwork could be configured to allow cool outside air into the system, or to keep the system closed.

The marquee of the Strand consisted of a large circular disk over a round box-office. Rows and rows of incandescent lights lined the underside of the marquee and lit up the entire area. Neon lettering spelled out STRAND on the top. And a red neon ring encircled the top of the blue box-office.

The projection room was a fireproof vault with a separate room for film storage. Peerless carbon arcs were used with Simplex E-7 projectors. An autotransformer dimmer panel controlled the auditorium and stage lights from the projection room. The booth included rectifiers and an over-sized Hertner generator (transverter) for stable DC amperage for the arcs, and with Simplex XL projector heads and a magnetic sound system. As with the other theatres, a CinemaScope screen was installed.

Except for the addition of a candy stand, the building remained unchanged for 50 years. As the newest and most attractive theatre, it was kept in good repair during that time. Each week, young employees would scrub the floors, polish the wood work and clean the seats. The theatre kept it's art deco, machine age, classic look until it was sold in 1989.

After being sold the theatre was carved into five auditoriums. The lobby was converted to retail space, the front doors and glass block removed, and the overall appearance became rather depressing.  It still operates today with the theater entrance where the side exit once was.

 

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Updated 03/04/2006