400 Clifton Avenue,
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The Historic Strand Theater of Lakewood (Official)
Previously operated by: Liggett-Florin Booking Service
Architects: Thomas White Lamb
Functions: Performing Arts
Styles: Renaissance Revival
Previous Names: Ferber's Strand Theatre
The Strand Theater was built for the Ferber Amusement Company and opened on July 13, 1922 with Mae Murray in “Peacock Alley”. It was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb, to serve as a tryout venue for Broadway shows before they actually went to Broadway, and the first of these came a week after opening, when Florence Reed starred in “The Devine Crook”.
However, within a couple years of its opening, the Strand Theatre began to host vaudeville shows and silent films, as well as the occasional play or musical. Among the stars who appeared on the Strand’s stage early in their careers included Burns & Allen, Milton Berle, and Ray Bolger.
By the end of the 1940’s, the theatre was only showing films. By 1957 it was operated by Liggett-Florin Booking Service. The theatre ended its cinematic days as a porn theatre and closed in the late-1970’s, unable to compete with television and nearby suburban mall theatres.
In 1981, the vacant but still intact Strand Theatre was added to the New Jersey Register of Historical Places, as well as the National Register of Historical Places. A few years later, a campaign was kicked off to raise funds for the theatre’s restoration, but actual restoration of the Strand Theatre did not begin until 1992. Within a year, the theatre reopened as a performing arts center, looking very much like it did when it opened 70 years before.
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