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Ribturtle, I must have just missed you. I was a projectionist at the Moorlyn in ‘77 and then at the Strand from '78 to '88. Our biggest summer must have been “ET” in 1982. We actually used the balcony a few times.
Joe Vogel – What a great find. I never knew who the architect was and I had heard stories that the building was constructed in record time, but I never had a confirmation of that. Thank you!Jim Laymon
Joe Vogel – I’m just now seeing your link to BOXOFFICE and the pictures of the Moorlyn. That is So Cool! I remember that entrance. The stainless steel had been painted white (as you see in my picture at the top of this page)and I kind of thought that it was probably Stainless originally. Very cool photos. Believe it or not, I have the one of the original neon “O"s from the MOORLYN sign in that art deco style. Thanks for the link.
It is now owned by the Ocean City Tabernacle. A newspaper article from a couple months ago stated that the Tabernacle would use a few screens for family movies.
The last I heard the Frank Company had sold it (and the Moorlyn) to an investment group who then sold the Moorlyn to the Ocean City Tabernacle. I don’t know the plan for the STRAND but I would like to find out.
Photo taken by Jim Laymon, 1982
This is a different Strand Theatre, closer to Moorlyn Terrace. It burned down in October of 1937.
This is a different Strand Theatre that was between Moorlyn Terrace and 9th Street. It burned down in 1937.
Wow. That is a great photo. I had taken one around the same time, but this one is much better. And that site has the Moorlyn and Village theaters too.
Thanks for the link!
Here is a clip of me doing a changeover at the Strand in 1988…
Those were still the original Peerless arc lamps, with 1950’s Simplex XL’s. Arcs were powered by a Hertner Transverter (generator) in an adjacent room. Rewinding was still done by hand.
I worked as a projectionist (occasionally) at the Surf in the late 1970’s, just before Shriver’s let go of the lease and Al Kazmark(?) then leased it for rock films.
When I was there, the theatre was owned by the Frank company but operated by the Shriver company. Unfortunately, the Frank company was not about to do any maintenance on the building when a competitor was operating it. So the roof leaked terribly and there were times when we would rope off the first 10 rows of seats because of standing water.
But the building was interesting. It was never meant to be a palace, but there was a very large stage with ropes and sandbags along with a very old dimmer panel. I remember those dressing rooms too. And the spotlight (MT). I remember playing with that too.
The projection room had a large fireproof battery room attached to it to provide clean power for the original sound system (long gone). And from the proj room you could walk through a door out onto the roof of the marquee. That was pretty cool. Start the movie and then check out the girls on the beach!
There was no air conditioning, but there were 2 or 3 very large fan rooms on the roof that exhausted hot air from the ceiling.. Those fan blades were giant.
Anyway, I included a little history of it on my web page:
Thanks for the memories!
Thank you very much for your comments. I am thrilled there is someone else who appreciated those old movie houses. I often think that I would do that boardwalk job as a career, if I could eat off that salary—and if the theaters were still intact.
I remember Rollercoaster. That might have been my first or second year there. The general manager had me help remove a bunch of seats so that the sound guys could install the giant speaker boxes that made the “Sensurround” rumbling. A lot of us wondered if the old building would survive that movie, but it did, of course.
And thanks for your comments on the Strand. I also remember the seaside, musty smell of the Strand. Each theatre was a little different. The Strand was the nicest and cleanest. And that, of course, was my favorite too. And although my memory isn’t real clear, if it was the projectionist who let you take pictures, then it was probably me, or I was probably there. I’d love to see them.
And those seats were pretty cool. I was able to snag one before the sale and it is in my basement.
Anyway, thanks for your comments.
Yes I think they have torn down all the Adventure Village buildings now. I stopped by there not-too-long-ago and snapped a few pictures of what remained:
It was funny because the demolition guys there didn’t look very friendly at first and probably didn’t want someone poking around their project. But when I said Hi and showed them the old postcards of the place, they really took an interest and let me take all the pictures I wanted.
Yep. 70 years old. I almost forgot this is a big birthday year. It opened on August 11, 1938.
Technically, that is the same boxoffice out in front, but it isn’t used. They had promised the Planning Board and Historic Commission years ago that they would keep it. They covered the surfaces with stucco and it has been rotting for a while now (unless someone recently repaired it).
I believe tickets are sold at the side entrance (which was originally the rear auditorium exit).
Thinking about Zaberers and Charlie Pumpernickels makes me remember the little amusement park we used to visit as kids. It was Adventure Village. It was also on the Black Horse Pike. It was a little town and old west style buildings that resembled a town square with a theater, bank, general store, etc. You would walk around the little town and check out all the buildings. On a regular interval, the Keystone Cops would chase a bad guy around town. So there were amusements and performances.
It wasn’t open long, only a few seasons before it closed. But the buildings have been there ever since, slowly decaying behind a stand of trees. I read now that they are finally going to tear it all down to make way for something new.
Just thought I would mention it.
And back to the STRAND. Those backlit movie star portraits have survived:
I remember Zaberer’s from when I was in high school. We had a few banquets there. It was pretty interesting. I seem to remember a few different dining areas, a gift shop, photo booth, and lots of decorations.
I don’t know if this link will work, but here is an aerial shot of the Zaberers location.
That’s a great (1932) picture of the original Strand which was located between Moorlyn Terrace and 9th. It burned down in the fall of 1937 (70 years ago this month). The new Strand was built on the corner of 9th and Boardwalk in ‘38.
Thanks to Ken for posting that picture!
Ken, Thanks for the info.
Mr. Faunce owned the business, but Shriver owned the buildings, and after Faunce died, Mrs. Shriver-Schiling decided she would own the business and hire a general manager (Arthur Oehlschlager) to run the Shriver Theatre Company.
Don’t know if this is the same Faunce family as the Absecon road. But D. Roscoe Faunce’s father did own the Faunce Theatre on the boardwalk that burned down in 1927. And his son, Roscoe (Rip) Faunce was a manager while I was there.
The Strand Theatre Company also operated the Moorlyn and Gateway Theatres at that time. Don’t know why they were left out of the almanac. But thanks again for the info!
I know the feeling. I rarely eat popcorn!
But Shriver’s is still my favorite taffy!
Yep. Shriver’s Taffy was started by Helen Schilling’s grandfather. I believe he was William Shriver. And his son was also William Shriver. Helen, who was in her 90’s when I knew her, inherited the theaters and taffy from her father in the 1940’s I believe.
The taffy business was started in the very late 1800’s.
And the Taffy business was sold to the present owner a long time ago. 1960’s perhaps? The actual property the taffy store sits on was still owned by Helen until she died in the 1998.
I wish I had seen this discussion earlier.
I was an operator and occasional manager of the Strand Theatre for many years before the three boardwalk theaters were sold to the Frank Company in 1989. When the previous owner, Helen Shriver Schilling, decided she would sell the properties, she insisted that they not be sold to her long-time competitor. But unfortunately, the sale was handled by someone without fully briefing her, and the Frank Company used a front company called ASF Industries to make the purchase. At that time, the OC Historic Commission asked me to come brief them and testify at two planning board meetings.
The Historic Commission tried very hard to prevent the drastic and ugly alterations, but they didnâ€™t have the authority to demand it. The planning board was not interested in historic preservation at the time, and even if they had been, they could not prevent the alterations since the buildings would still be theaters. They could dictate parking spaces, entrances and exits, but not style. Nonetheless, the new owners promised to keep the exterior the same, to use the boxoffice, and to build only 4 auditoriums consistent with the machine age art deco style.
Unfortunately, they removed all the glass block, converted the lobby into retail space, closed the round boxoffice, covered the hundreds of incandescent light circles under the marquee, and built 5 auditoriums instead of 4. The entrance is now on the side of the building where an emergency exit once was.
Since that time Iâ€™ve created the boardwalk theater history site at www.moorlyn.com and have been honored to speak at the museum a couple of times. But looking back at it all now, I of course think it is a shame that the theaters were sacrificed for money, but it would be almost impossible today to support the value of that real estate at 9th and boardwalk without multiple films running. Before the sale, the theaters were profitable because they carried no debt. They were inherited decades before from Mrs. Schillingâ€™s father, William Shriver. To buy them in 1989 meant you had to make enough profit to cover the mortgage.
In 1989 I had a partner and a local bank lined up to help me with purchasing the theaters with the intent of keeping them the way the Shriver family had wanted. And based on the income of single screens (the Moorlyn was a twin) the properties could have supported a purchase value of $1.5 M. Yet, the buyers actually paid $6.5 M. You canâ€™t sell enough tickets to support that with only four screens. So they carved them up. I donâ€™t know how they ever made enough to cover that debt. Perhaps the Village fire helped reduce that burden, and perhaps the Hoyt management deal helped bring them back into the black.
And I can say from experience running those boardwalk theaters that people donâ€™t really come to the boardwalk to watch a movie. They can do that at home. They will watch a movie if they have nothing else to do, or if it is raining. The Strand had 1,450 very comfy seats, but even as a flagship theatre it would have been very difficult to fill them, and with that kind of mortgage, you need to fill them.
This has been that companyâ€™s strategy for many years. Get maximum profit out of a theatre, do no maintenance, and sell the land when it crumbles. The Margate Twin (built in 1938) and the Somers Point 4 (converted in 1981) theatres are both examples, and are both gone now.
So it is a damn shame that the Strand did not survive in its previous configuration. It had been painstakingly cared for since 1938 and was still in very good shape in 1989. but the owner was too old to worry about it anymore. Still I am glad that I worked there. For two years now there has been a night dedicated at the OC museum to the history of the boardwalk theaters, and it is always fun to hear the stories that long-time residents tell.
Check out www.moorlyn.com and http://photobook.smugmug.com/gallery/2236013
Web site updated with more pictures…
The Point 4 was originally a bowling alley that I patronized as a kid. Around 1983 the Frank family purchased it and converted it to 5 auditoriums, although only 4 were used. The 5th was left as a garage. The Franks already had plenty of screens in the area and with the Gateway theatre no longer showing movies, there was no other theatre in Somers Point. However, the Franks had been trying to obtain the boardwalk theatres in Ocean City for years, and this gave them a chance to compete for films in the same area, in some cases, preventing Ocean City from running good pictures. The Point 4 did take business from Ocean City. As a manager of the Point 4 I remember customers calling from O.C. to get directions to the Somers Point theatre.
The theatre used older Century heads and platter systems — one platter system for each pair of screens. Remote controls were in the lobby and I had installed indicator lights in the boxoffice to let the cashier know when the movies started. The auditoriums were rather simple, with no movable masking and no proscenium curtains.
I was often disappointed however that the equipment was often in need of repair, there were no spare parts, the sound leaked from each auditorium, and the lenses were in poor shape.
But in the end the theatre accomplished its mission. The Ocean City boardwalk theatres, long owned by the Shriver family, were sold to the Frank company (just like the Wildwood theatres) in 1989.
A lot of distinctive features were lost on the conversion in 1989. In particular, I used to love the 5 rings of incandescent lights under the circular marquee. They created a lot of light, so much that you could feel the heat from them when standing underneath. I didn’t like having to remove them all for the winter each year.
Inside, the auditorium had a very cool art deco look, with wide striped bands running down the walls, curving in to the columns on each side of the stage. I was always amazed at how even after 50 years it still looked fresh, and was well maintained. I’ve sen it a few times since the conversion and was very disappointed.
I should have been more clear in the original text. “Paper company” does in fact mean that the three theater properties were sold to a company that concealed the actual owners. The former owner, Helen Shriver Schilling, did not wish to sell the properties to the local competetors, with whom she had an unfriendly history. But the sale went through anyway without her understanding who was behind the deal.
The building was very interesting, however, in that you could see places where the place had been changed many times over the years. A hidden deck behind the South Seas shop was at one time a pier overlooking the ocean.