Strand Theater age?

posted by wandrews on June 23, 2006 at 6:16 am

BROCKPORT, NY — The Lyric Theater opened and showed motion pictures on the ground floor of the Winslow Block in downtown Brockport in 1907. It moved to the second floor and changed its name to Strand in 1916. In 1946, it was remodeled to occupy the entire building and added a modernist facade.

As next year is its centennial, I am trying to find out where it ranks agewise among continuously-operating motion picture theaters, especially in New York State.

I would appreciate any reports of older, continuously-operating movie theaters.

—Bill Andrews

Theaters in this post

Comments (6)

JimRankin
JimRankin on June 23, 2006 at 8:34 am

Your best bet would be to go to such references as The Film Daily Yearbook and look for movie theatres in New York from the earliest year you can find down through later volumes. Your quest will not be easy, but possibly the Theatre Historical Society of America will know something more. They are at their convention in Boston until July 5th or so, but after then contact their Richard Sklenar through his E-mail given on their web page at: www.historictheatres.org

If you are limiting to film houses only, your search is more elusive, since in the earliest days many nickelodeons did not advertise (and legitimate theatres sometimes showing ‘flickers’ occasionally, didn’t always admit it), and show houses changed names often as you point out. Many in the smaller towns were little known and the states did not regulate or license businesses — that is the job of the municipalities — so there is no central registry to refer to. Perhaps you would do best to bill its Centennial something like: “…thought to be the longest running film venue in the state.” This is what many do elsewhere to be authoriative without being adamant when they could later be proved wrong.

For live action venues, there is an entire book on this subject published by a former director of the League of Historic American Theatres at: www.lhat.org The title escapes me at the moment.

Your state Historic Preservation Officer in Albany might know more, so a visit or letter might be worthwhile. Best Wishes.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on June 25, 2006 at 2:39 am

Hi Bill,

Greetings from a “neighbor” in Geneva NY! I have unconfirmed information that the Cinema Theater in Rochester NY has been in continuous operation since 1914. (But i believe it to be true.) It’s a tiny little cinema that sits across the road from the Highland Diner, another vintage treasure in Rochester. As of last year I know the current owner was trying to sell but i never heard what the upshot was of those talks. (I met with a potential buyer to talk about all the “joys” of owning a movie theater.)

Would love to visit the Lyric some day, you are so close it’s amazing that i haven’t stumbled by already!

Karen Colizzi Noonan, President
Theatre Historical Society

wandrews
wandrews on June 25, 2006 at 2:43 am

Thanks for your reply. Incidentally, it has not been the Lyric since its name was changed to Strand in 1916. The Strand is easy to find. It’s right on Main Street in the middle of town. Let me know when you are coming to town and, if I am around, I will give you a tour.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on June 25, 2006 at 2:47 am

Lessons Learned: “Never post to Cinema Treasures before the second cup of coffee on a Sunday morning!”

Of COURSE i know it’s the Strand – however my brain is not sufficiently caffeinated yet. I am looking at your website right now and trying to figure out if i can work it into my travel plans to Buffalo on July 3. Will let you know!

wandrews
wandrews on June 25, 2006 at 10:57 am

I leave for the ADK Tuesday, but return on July 2, so I should be available on July 3. I will have my laptop along in the ADK, so I should be able to get messages. My email address is My cellphone is 585-727-1748, if I can get reception in the ADK.

SchineHistorian
SchineHistorian on June 25, 2006 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Bill. I sent a note to the theater’s email “contact” address too. Will give you a ring when i get back from the Conclave in Boston!

And to all who are “signing off” to travel to Boston, wishing you a safe trip and great times on the THS Conclave. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

Karen

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