Strand Theater

315 Market Street,
Sunbury, PA 17801

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Strand Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Strand Theater was the larger of two Sunbury theaters, the smaller being the 612 seat; Rialto Theater.

Originally opened in 1910 as the People’s Theater, it was a handsome light brick building with a grand marquee that featured moving lights and provided quite a bit of life and light to Market Street. The theater was very well kept and well managed. It was remodeled in 1951 to the plans of architect Michael J. DeAngelis. It had a large CinemaScope screen which was installed for the movie “The Robe” in 1953.

I am not certain of the date it closed, but I believe that like the rest of Market Street, it fell victim to nearby malls. The once thriving Market Street is now a shadow of its former self. The building is now used as an electrical supply warehouse.

Contributed by Gary Hoy

Recent comments (view all 40 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Boxoffice Magazine has moved its archive from Issuu.com to its own web site, in a section called The Vault. The article about Harry Zimmerman is now at this link.

I’ve come across a couple of references to a movie house in Sunbury called the People’s Theatre, which was in operation by 1913. No address is available, but I’m wondering if it might have been an early aka for the Strand or the Rialto.

In the vintage photo of the Strand at Strandsunbury (the one taken when the street was flooded) the entrance building, at least, was of a style that could have dated from the early 20th century. The theater could have been built behind it at a later date, of course, and the lobby run through an existing building.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on June 21, 2011 at 7:24 am

YesJoe, the Strand was originally known as the Peoples Theatre. I have seen a couple of pictures with that name on the building. You are also correct about the original entrance. It was on the side of the building facing the square until the early 1950’s. The building you see on the coener was torn down and a new Lobby and entrance with large marquee were added at that time.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Mr. J. M. Blanchard was mentioned as the operator of the People’s Theatre in a couple of 1913 issues of The Moving Picture World. In the November 1 issue, he was cited as being displeased that a cinematic version of “Quo Vadis?” was not being made available to movie theaters. The producers were attempting to attract an audience that didn’t usually attend movies, and they advertised that their production had never been shown in a movie house, but only in regular theaters.

The regular theater that showed the movie in Sunbury was probably the Chestnut Street Opera House, the only such theater listed at Sunbury in Julius Cahn’s guides during the period. Despite its name, the opera house played vaudeville for much of its history, and might have shown movies as part of the programs. If so, it should be added to Cinema Treasures.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on June 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

I found mention of the People’s Theatre in a 1910 trade column in an old newspaper. By the comments, it seems that it was strictly vaudeville then.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 7, 2012 at 8:45 am

Strand renovations described in this 1951 trade article: boxoffice

Patsy
Patsy on July 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

When I saw the photo with the great marquee it made me smile then I read….“I am not certain of the date it closed, but I believe that like the rest of Market Street, it fell victim to nearby malls. The once thriving Market Street is now a shadow of its former self. The building is now used as an electrical supply warehouse.”

Jack Theakston
Jack Theakston on February 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I suspect this theater was actually opened around 1928, owned by the Commerford Amusement Co. chain. If that is the case, I also suspect the original architect was Leon Lempert, Jr. The lobby in the BoxOffice magazine article looks a lot like Lempert’s Capitol in Rome.

jeffreyt
jeffreyt on February 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm

The Lobby was part of an early 1950’s renovation by New York theatre architect Michael DeAngelis. The theatre was owned then by United Paramount which was after it was owned by Comerford. It was open in 1910 as the People’s Theatre.

Patsy
Patsy on February 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

Thanks gentlemen for your informative comments. I have been in contact with the grandson of Michael De Angelis. He has posted on the Stage Theatre CT link and has provided his email address there!

Jack Theakston
Jack Theakston on February 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I was referring to the “before” picture. Those poster cases and fixtures are similar to the ones that were installed by Lempert’s crews in all of the Comerford theaters during that period.

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