A Century of Cinema at the Strand Theatre: 1916-2016
Located in the heart of downtown Delaware, the Strand Theatre has entertained the community for more than 96 years. The 25,000-square-foot Strand stands today as one of the 10 longest-operating movie theatres in the United States, as well as one of the few independent movie theatres showing first-run films. The theatre attracts approximately 60,000 patrons annually from across central Ohio.
The Strand's History and Place in the Community
The Strand Theatre opened its doors on April 10, 1916, and has been showing movies continually ever since! In 1936, the Strand was purchased by Schine Theatres from Gloversville, N.Y., and was part of that chain of movie theatres until 1971, when George and Cindy Johnson from Delaware took over the operations. In 1994, Cathy and Jerry Amato became the new owners and operators, managing the theatre for eight years.
In 2002, Ohio Wesleyan University temporarily took over ownership and operations to help preserve the community icon until a new and independent nonprofit organization, the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association, with its own Board of Directors, was formed in 2008. The Association owns and operates the Strand Theatre today. Members of the Association's Board of Directors are central Ohio residents committed to the preservation of the Strand Theatre and all that it represents to the community.
The Strand Theatre building, along with its adjoining storefronts, is home to three movie screens as well as space used by local nonprofit arts groups, including the Central Ohio Symphony. Additional square footage exists for inclusion of other community organizations and businesses in the future. Beyond cinema, the Strand Theatre serves the Delaware area in a number of ways: collecting essential school supplies through its summer film Kids Series; hosting the annual Comics for a Cure in support of the American Cancer Society; and providing after-school programming for children.
Drawing on its rich history and vital location, the Strand Theatre has an exciting future as the anchor to an expanding cultural arts district within the city and as a regional entertainment destination. Guided by a 2008 feasibility study, the members of the nonprofit Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association Board and other members of the community look to the renewal of the Strand Theatre as a key component in the continuing redevelopment of downtown Delaware and a stimulus to economic growth in central Ohio.
The Case for Renewal
Rapidly approaching its 100th year, the Strand Theatre looks forward to another century of service as an entertainment, economic, and community resource but depends upon the support of others to remain a viable partner in downtown Delaware. Showing its age, the Strand Theatre requires renewal both inside and out. To that end, the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association has launched a multi-phase campaign to:
- Modernize all three theatre spaces—East, Main, and Balcony – including conversion to digital projection reflective of the movie industry's current standards
- Provide a new screen, digital projector, flooring, wallcovering, sound system, lighting and painting in each theatre
- Offer new, comfortable seating in all theatres
- Provide new, more convenient restrooms
- Refresh the theatre marquee and entrance
- Refurbish the lobby, ticket booth, and lounge areas
- Install new mechanical and electrical systems
The transformation will allow for a much-enhanced viewing experience. In addition, such refurbishments will provide improved venues for movie patrons as well as meeting space for social, corporate, and community events. Numerous unique naming opportunities and levels of participation are available.
Initial stages of the theatre's makeover are already underway: new men's and women's restrooms, improvements to the marquee, and exterior enhancements. This work is made possible by a $150,000 grant from Delaware County Board of Commissioners and a $50,000 grant awarded by the City of Delaware, both provided in recognition of the theatre's role in the vitality of downtown Delaware. Major gifts from Delaware County Bank and OhioHealth have also made the initial phase of renovation possible. Reflective of the movie industry as a whole, the Strand Theatre is transitioning from 35 mm film to digital projection. These efforts are a wonderful beginning to the refurbishment of the theatre but much remains to be done.
The Strand Theatre has been a community icon for nearly 100 years, and a dedicated group of community volunteers is working to preserve it for many decades to come. Join us in investing in the community through the efforts to renew this unique facility in time for its century celebration in 2016! Lights, camera, action!