History of The Strand

The Strand Theater opened as The Jewel in 1917 and was renamed many times—The Sun, The College, The Francesca—before it finally became The Strand in 1928. From 1939 to 1977, the building was run by the West Side Theatre Company, but the advent of television dealt a hard blow to Market Street's once-thriving theater district. To attract customers, The Strand offered triple bills (switched out daily) and nightly bingo games, but business declined. In 1977, Mike Thomas became manager of The Strand, restored its deteriorating interior, and resurrected the venue by turning it into a well-known revival cinema, popular for its midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. A.C.T. Founding Artistic Director Bill Ball even hosted an A.C.T. Night during this period. Home video undercut the revival theater business, however, and The Strand once again suffered. In 1994, under new management, it became a porn theater, infamous for its unsavory clientele and activities. The city raided the venue in 2003, when its doors were closed and, along with much of the neighborhood, the building fell into disrepair.

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