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Thank you Lost memory for the photos. 1981 was about the time I became a regular volunteer working for John Ramser to run the projectors and make popcorn. Mr. Ramser managed the Strand from 1976 until its closure in 1996. He also still operates the Plaza Theater in Weirton and the Glendale Drive In. He is a theater man of the old stripe. His presence at the Strand for 20-years insured that the lights were on at night and that there was always a new movie to watch. He sacrificed much during the video tape era when patronage at the Strand shrank annually, but his love of the place helped insure its integrity and make the Strand a cherished part of our shared collective conscience.
A full page announcement was printed in the Moundsville Daily Echo newspaper on 25 September 1926 describing the 1,400 pipes making up this Moller-Concert Theatre Organ. Credit for this successful and valuable addition to the Sybert Strand Theatre goes entirely to Merton A. Sybert, builder, owner and operator of the theatre. His faith in the people of Moundsville and his generosity in giving freely of his time and fortune set the best example of civic pride. The Strand’s early success was shouldered entirely on the strength of Merton A. Sybert, b. 5 Jul 1871, d. 26 Mar 1928.
A custom-built replica marquee has been installed containing all the design elements of the original 1920 marquee. Period photos supplied by Tom James guided this process. The wooden entrance doors have been conserved and are fresh-looking with new brass pulls and kickplates. All windows have been replaced or repaired in a manner consistant with historic conservation and replica announcement boxes have been mounted under the marquee. The sole remaining steel/iron counterweighted fire escape has been restored and all exterior ornamental metalwork has been repaired and painted. The exterior of the building looks brand new again. Restoration of the interior spaces will now begin with an expected completion date of 2012.
Cleaning of the exterior masonry is now complete. The next phase of conservation will address the rehabilitation of the pressed metal cornices. Plans include the hanging of a replica marquee over the entrance doors.
Here is an update on recent happenings with the restoration effort. First, a shakeup in the board of directors has repositioned the organization for some new, dynamic leadership. Secondly, a fresh website is up and running at www.strandtheater.org The Strand has been helped substantially by U.S. Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, (D/WV), in acquiring substantive funding for several capital improvements. Through a charitable foundation established by the Congressman, Vandalia Heritage Foundation, www.vandalia.org, the Strand has received funding for a new roof and restoration of the exterior components of the building. The fused membrane roof is now in place and scaffolding currently is going up around the building for chemical cleaning of the brick exterior and repointing where needed. New windows, repairs to the stamped-metal cornices and new exit doors are also included in this phase of work. Pictures of the improvements may be viewed at the Strand website.
Richard G. The Strand opened with 1,100 seats, but people were slimmer in 1920 than they are today! At 750, the seating is comfortable, but the old balcony layout is very cramped. The knees of the patron directly behind one reach to the forward seatback. There is no room to walk without everyone in the row standing up. In the future the number of chairs and their arrangement will meet modern codes. Regarding the closure, the Strand was down from 1970 through 1976 because of the former owner’s sense of outrage over the expanding use of vulgar language in movies post The Omen. A new leasee reopened the house with improved ammenities including new seating, carpeting, paint, screen, projectors and concessions. It ran for another 20-years before falling victim to VCR’s. A rather stogie and idle group has since taken over the building with far-flung hopes of mounting stage performances. Unfortunately, the demographics and population of this area will not support the stage. People want a movie.