Strand’s ‘Century of Cinema’ continues


By Anthony Conchel - civitasmedia.com



The Strand Theatre remains a vibrant part of downtown Delaware and a center of its culture.

Tracey Peyton, Managing Director of the Strand Theater, spoke at Delaware Rotary Club Monday afternoon, updating members on the historic structure’s “Century of Cinema.”

The theatre opened in 1916 “when balcony seats were 10 cents and main floor seats 15 cents,” Peyton said.

The iconic building continues to show movies, all the while doing renovations and upgrades at its 28 E. Winter St. location.

“We have seating for 550 in three theaters,” Peyton said. “We are older than AMC, Cinemark and Regal.”

Despite rising costs for movies and concessions, “it’s never closed its doors.”

Peyton touted the Strand’s recent conversion to digital and the work on the restrooms and the facade.

“Lighting and electrical upgrades and new seats in the balcony theatre have taken place,” she said.

Acoustic enhancements are planned in 2017.

A 20-minute video highlighted the changes that have taken place in a century from the time the building was purchased in 1915 “and a theatre installed in the middle of it” soon afterward.

Henry Bieberson, a brewer from Martins Ferry, Ohio, was the initial owner, opening April 10, 1916. It has shown movies continuously ever since.

It later became part of the Schine Theatre chain, which at one time operated 17 movie houses in Ohio, until 1971 when George and Cindy Johnson took ownership.

Various ownership changes led to the Amato Era, 1994-2002.

Jerry and Cathy Amato are credited with saving the theater during a difficult time. The couple bought it Feb. 11, 1994.

“We wanted to keep it in the community and preserve it,” Cathy Amato said.

That goal was accomplished in 2002 when Ohio Wesleyan University took ownership and helped create the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit board that currently owns the Strand.

Multiplex cinemas have come and gone, and The Strand Theatre has remained.

“We are like the movies you have seen, Rocky, Seabiscuit, The Champ. We are the underdog,” Peyton said.

She credits overwhelming community support for the Strand’s success.

There’s another appealing aspect to the theatre, in addition to its central location and affordability, according to Peyton.

“We serve the best popcorn in the region,” she said.

For information on the theatre, visit http://www.thestrandtheatre.net/.

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By Anthony Conchel

civitasmedia.com