As one of the 10 longest operating movie theaters in the country, the Strand Theatre in downtown Delaware has survived the past 100-plus years thanks to the dedication of generations of locals who have poured years of blood, sweat, tears and money into making the Strand what Joni Manos Brown calls the “downtown icon for our community.”
Brown and her family, including her late parents Peter and Georgia Manos, are just a handful of those individuals who have kept the Strand in operation over the years. In honor of their commitment to the Strand and for stepping up to help fund the renovation of the balcony theater, the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association Board of Directors honored the family on Tuesday by announcing the balcony will be known as The Brown Family Generations Theater.
“My parents led by example with their charitable acts, leadership and volunteerism, so it was only natural to continue their legacy by working to preserve and refurbish the Strand Theatre for future generations,” Brown states in a press release issued by the Strand. “I have always believed that you leave a place better than you found it. We have made so many improvements in the last 10 years, and it was extremely important to me to see the completion of all three theaters (main, side and balcony) before the end of my term as president.”
According to the press release, the first level of the balcony theater was completed in November 2017 thanks to a $175,000 federal grant made possible by the State of Ohio. The initial renovation added 65 rocking seats with cup holders, enhanced lighting, new acoustic tile and carpeting, and new paint and railings.
The final improvements, which added new chairs to the upper level of the balcony to give it a total of 130 seats, was made a reality through a financial donation from the Brown family of Upper Arlington.
“All this was made possible by the very generous time, talent and treasure of the Manos Brown family,” said Adam Hansberry, president of the Strand board. “Through 2009 to 2017, Joni led the theater through many challenges, many obstacles, and lots of success. Without Joni, we wouldn’t be looking at these wonderful, three newly refurbished theatres, and a working marquee.”
Bill Rogers, treasurer of the Strand board, added, “We stand here witnessing the beginning of the Strand’s second 100 years in operation, largely due to the Brown family. What a great gift the Manos Brown family has given from their generation to the next.”
During Tuesday’s dedication ceremony, Brown, who graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University and served as the Stand board president from 2009 to 2017, thanked her family (husband, Peter G. Brown; son and daughter-in-law, George and Erin Brown; and daughter, Angela) after she unveiled the plaque featuring her family’s name that now hangs outside the balcony doors.
The inscription on the plaque reads: “Dedicated to the children of Delaware who attend the Kid’s Series and learn to give back to their community. This theater, from one of those children, is a gift from One Generation to the Next.”
Brown, a retired sixth-grade math and science teacher who attended the Strand Theatre’s Kid’s Series as a child growing up in Delaware, told the crowd that gathered for the dedication ceremony that her family does all it can to support America’s future — the youth.
“We love working with the youth and making their lives better,” she said.
In the press release, Brown adds, “Now as I help out during the Kid’s Series, I see the children bringing in their donations (supplies collected for other nonprofits), and I hear each organization’s appreciation for what we do — that really grabs at my heartstrings. I know we are not only providing needed supplies to those charities but also setting an example for generations to follow by teaching children to give.”
Brown also took a moment to thank Tracey Peyton, Strand Theatre managing director, for her work over in helping make the theater what it is today.
Peyton added the Brown family’s guidance over the years has had a lot to do with her success as director.
“Thank you for this wonderful gift of allowing us to complete the balcony that will last long after most of us are gone, and thank you for being amazing stewards of the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association Board, and family here at the Strand,” Peyton told the Browns.
Owned and operated by the Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association, the Strand is one of the few remaining independent theatres showing first-run films, and the theater is estimated to have an economic impact of $1 million annually on the Delaware community.
The Strand serves 75,000 patrons per year and is open 364 days a year. Learn more at www.thestrandtheatre.net.
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