Strand Theatre

202 N. Hermitage Avenue,
Trenton, NJ 08618

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Showing 1 - 25 of 32 comments

RickB on November 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Although the threat to close Trenton’s branch libraries (including this one) eventually came true, after a few months they were reopened as “learning centers” with no circulation of books and reduced hours.

tyrogers on September 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Additionally, as to David Johnston, he was Charles Hildinger’s brother-in-law (and my husband’s great-grandfather)and he actually lived on Edgewood Avenue & worked at several of the theater’s as a manager including the Strand for a time. He also rented out rooms in his home to organists and other theater workers.

tyrogers on September 20, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I’m not from Trenton, but Charles Hildinger was my husband’s great-uncle and I have done a lot of research on him. The Strand was originally built about 1916 by the Strand Theatre Company owned by C Hildinger (50 shares) and the Philip & Marie Papier (50 shares). In June, 1915 they filed papers as incorporators" to build the Strand. In 1925 there was a major renovation costing $100,000. “One of the outstanding features…the pipe organ. An instrument costing $7,500 has been installed. It is of such mammoth size that it was necessary to extend the rear of the building in order to accommodate the organ.” (all info from news articles)

teecee on January 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Built by the James H. Morris Company. Morris, a local Mason, also built city hall, the Masonic Temple and Hamilton High School.

RickB on September 13, 2008 at 7:54 am

Future of this building is uncertain as the city of Trenton has proposed closing all four of its branch libraries for budgetary reasons.

Lippy on January 24, 2008 at 11:59 am

MikeH —

Thank you for the information about Trenton theaters. I’ve been to most them, and the Strand was my neighborhood theater. (We actually have a connection — I lived on General Greene Avenue, and your sister-in-law Frances was my best friend in elementary school.)

teecee on January 20, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Old program ca 1915

View link


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Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on July 6, 2006 at 12:56 pm

MikeH: The Cineplex Odeon chain that is in Canada is a seperate company from AMc Theatres. The Cineplex Odeon name on theatres in the US are on theatres that, at least in NY/NJ area, are from the former RKO Century Warner theatre chain. Most newspapers advertise Cineplex Odeon as “AMC Loews”. i have a feeling that AMC may eventually drop the Cineplex Odeon name alltogether.

The Star name is on theatres in Detroit, Mi that were bought originally by Loews/Sony Theatres.

I work at a AMC Theatres in the Philadelphia, PA area. 2 of AMC’s Philadelphia theatres were from the old Budco Theatres chain.

MikeH on July 6, 2006 at 9:06 am

MikeRa: Thanks for the information on AMC. I was aware that AMC bought GCC, Loews and Magic Johnson. The way they are advertised in the NY Times leads me to believe that Loews and possibly Johnson still has some interest as the theatre names are hyphenated. I was not aware of the Cineplex Odeon (I assume Canada)or the Star deals.
I’ve heard of Star but I don’t know where they operated. I assume it was a western US circuit? Are you active in the business or are
you getting your information from the trades?

Michael R. Rambo Jr.
Michael R. Rambo Jr. on July 5, 2006 at 10:31 pm

Mikeh: Peter Brown is still the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of AMC Entertainment Inc., and is only the third Chairman of the Board for AMC Entertainment Inc., suceeding Stanley Durwood, and founder Ed Durwood. Phil Singelton is the president of American Multi-Cinema Inc., which operates under the AMC, Loews, Cineplex Odeon, Magic Johnson, and Star names.

teecee on May 29, 2006 at 3:38 pm

Listed on page 126 of the 1917 Trenton City Directory under “Moving Pictures”. Address is give as West End av cor Hermitage Av. Interesting that West End is listed first. Perhaps the original entrance was located on that side of the building???

MikeH on July 16, 2005 at 2:58 pm

To TC from MikeH – To my knowledge the Strand never had an organ of any kind but (and a big but) my information was that the Strand wasn’t built until 1927 and that may be faulty. If it ever had an organ it was long gone before I got involved with the theatre which was in 1946. Never heard of Frederick R. Parker or David Johnston. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist or that they didn’t have something to do with the Strand…I just never heard of them. My information is that the Strand opened as a partnership with my Dad and Charlie Hildinger. Finally, the Strand was on the corner of Hermitage Ave and Edgewood Ave. That’s one I’m sure of. Mike H.

teecee on July 6, 2005 at 5:37 am

“Strand Theatre, (Frederick R Parker; Charles C Hildinger and David Johnston), moving pictures, Hermitage av cor West End”

listing from the 1920 Trenton City Directory as hosted by

teecee on July 5, 2005 at 5:49 am

On 6/20/1925, a Wurlitzer organ, opus 1093, was installed in the Strand.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on June 10, 2005 at 9:30 am

In 1998, GCC decided that they needed to save on payroll, so they bumped the union from full time operation, to weekends only. (In Chestnut Hill and many other locations) When the quality presentation became second to money, and the attention to the floor operation was diverted to the booth, it became painfully obvious that the “good ole days” were past. A single screen in an old downtown theatre would be a pleasure, I’m sure. In the old days, the theatre manager was a well known fixture in all the small towns all over the country. And you could find him standing in the lobby, greeting the patrons. Today, you’ll have a hard time finding him.

MikeH on June 10, 2005 at 7:05 am

dwodeyla: From Framingham to Braintree…see, I knew you were an elite manager! The business has certainly changed, all the magic is gone. At least we had the privilege of working in it when it was a career and not just a job. If you want to work in an atmosphere like it used to be, you have to go find some little theatre in some little town, buy it, fix it up and run it yourself. I often dream of doing just that.

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on June 9, 2005 at 7:06 pm

Jaws opened in Framingham the same month I was promoted from Assistant Manager in Framingham, to my first theatre as a Manager, at the Worcester Center Cinemas I, II, and III. The Manager in Framingham was Jim Mahoney, who was there for about a year, before transferring to Hanover. I became the Manager of Framingham in Sept of 1977, just in time for films like American Graffiti, Saturday Night Fever, Animal House, Poltergiest, Empire Strikes Back, and many other blockbusters from 1977 until I transferred to Braintree in 1983. We held an advance screening of the Blues Brothers one night to a full house, and John Landis came in to check out the audience reaction. (I got him to sign a still, which I still have. He wrote, “to the Cinema Crew, get back to work!”
My descriptive “only” was in reference to your position. Managing one of GCC’s top 10 was a pretty darn good job too. Lots of hours, (about 60 a week, but in those days it was fun. We had occasional trade screenings for the buyers and once in awhile a special event)
I’m out of the business now, but still get national weekly grosses via email.

MikeH on June 9, 2005 at 11:43 am

dwodeyla: “Only” a theatre manager? Being a theatre manager is an important job. I was a theatre manager for years before I began to move up the ladder. My theatre manager years were some of the happiest of my entire career. If you managed the Framingham Cinema in 1977 you must have been a very good manager. That was one of the jewels in the GCC crown. I went to a trade screening of “Jaws” there in 1975 and was very impressed with the theatre. Is it still in operation? I was a Redstone film-buyer at the time.
I casually knew Chuck Mason and knew Carl Bertolino better from his years in distribution. Are you still in the business?

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on June 1, 2005 at 1:57 pm

I was only a theatre Manager, but from 1986 to 1999 ran the Chestnut Hill theatre across the street from the Home Office and next door to Corporate Harcourt. I began working in Management in 1972 and ran one of their busiest theatres, Framingham from 1977 to 1983.
The buyer you mention is a familiar name, but I don’t think I ever met him. I knew Chuck Mason, Carl Bertolino, and a few others over the years. I think GCC’s problems were due in part, to poor leases on newer locations, negotiated in the 1990’s. At one point, they provided everyone with monthly balance sheets on every theatre so that we would be better informed. I wish I had saved a few. They stopped doing it after about 3 or 4 months. This was after Corporate spun off the theatre division. At that point, I think the Smith family was more interested in the Neiman Marcus and Harcourt business.

MikeH on June 1, 2005 at 10:42 am

dwodeyla – Bill Doren was an executive with AMC. He was not a “partner” although he undoubtedly owned some stock or stock options in the position he occupied. Bill was a really nice guy.
I only met him now and then at company meetings or industry conventions but he was always cordial and helpful. I don’t remember Dan Stravinski. When Stanley Durwood died it left a vacuum at the top of the company and there was something of an internal power struggle to be Chief Executive. My memory tells me that Peter Brown, who was the CFO took the reins. Whether he still holds that position I don’t know. AMC executives were very talented and it was a credit to Stanley that the new leadership came basically from within. Bill Doren may have been one of the casualties of that struggle but I really don’t know. It may be that GCC simply made him a better offer.
Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that GCC filed for Chapter 11, not outright bankruptcy. GCC was a cash-rich company and theatres were not their main business although it was important to them. They probably had more cash on hand than any other company. Why they got themselves in a position of Chapter 11 is probably worth a book. Their demise started before Doren went there. Most major chains filed for Chapter 11 (United Artists, Regal, etc.)the major problem being over-expansion. To AMCs credit they were one of the very few large international chains that didn’t file Chapter 11. As you probably know, AMC now owns GCC.
In what department did you work at GCC? Your one-time head film buyer Frannie Charles was a dear friend of mine who, you probably know, died way before his time. Frannie and I worked together at Redstone Theatres before he went to GCC. – MikeH

David Wodeyla
David Wodeyla on May 31, 2005 at 11:14 pm

I was referring to Bill Doeren and Dan Stravinski. When I was with GCC, Doeren joined them as President of the Theatre Division after having “left” AMC. He brought Dan Stravinski with him and within about 3 years, General Cinema Theatres declared bankruptcy.

MikeH on May 31, 2005 at 8:51 pm

dwodeyla – Wow! you threw me for a loop on that one. I was with AMC from 1989 to 1999. I joined them only because I was VP in charge of film buying and advertising for Budco theatres in Philadelphia when AMC bought the Budco circuit. I was then VP for AMC until I retired in 1999,and bought their film in the Philadelphia, New York and Boston film exchanges. The owner (majority stockholder in a publicly traded company) was Stanley Durwood. He really didn’t have any “partners.” He was chairman of the Board and the boss. So, I have no idea who you might mean at GCC. Do you have a name?
I’m new to the website so I don’t know if this is the appropriate place to discuss personalities either. But, as far as I’m concerned, the most fascinating part of the business was the personalities who shared it with me. If this is not the right place for this kind of discussion somebody out there holler! MikeH

MikeH on May 31, 2005 at 8:39 pm

RickB – Thanks, when I get time I’ll do that. MikeH

MikeH on May 31, 2005 at 8:33 pm

To KenRoe
Thanks for the tip. The Trenton Public Library has microphishe (did I spell that right?) of all of Trenton’s newspapers going back to at least the 19th century and perhaps the 18th. One of these days I’ll get up there and spend a day. I have a lot of relatives who lived in Trenton and I’d like to look them up. In the meantime we’ll just leave the founding of the Strand up in the air. I hope you’re the one that’s right. It would be neat to find out that theatre was built circa 1916. That’s the first theatre I ever worked in starting when I was 8 years old. I used to fill the candy machines and go get the projectionist his dinner among other things.