Strand Theatres

921 Main Street,
Grinnell, IA 50112

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Strand Theatres

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

JohnBenson
JohnBenson on February 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm

I attended Grinnell College from 1958 to 1960. At that time there were two theatres in town. The second theatre was on the same side of Main as the Strand on the same block, at or near the corner of 5th Avenue. It was a much larger, more impressive building that was built during the era of cinema palaces. But it was closed. The Strand and a drive-in were the only venues to see movies. The Strand, needless to say, was a single screen theatre at that time. (It isn’t that big and I can hardly imagine how it was made into three screens.)

In my second year there, I took over the college advertising for the theatre. This consisted of making weekly 8 ½ x 11 ditto posters and putting them on all the bulletin boards in the college. For this I got five freebies to the theatre a week, which I later negotiated to four free tickets and a pass for me to go as often as I wanted (shows changed three times a week). A showing of Ingmar Bergman’s THE MAGICIAN resulted in a special discussion at the college with English professors debating its merits, which was very well attended.

I would have discussions with the manager at the time. My 48 year-old memory is that he said his family used to own the other theatre in town. A big chain came in town, built the Strand and with access to better product because it was a chain, drove his family out of business. He then became manager of the Strand as an employee.

I’m glad to see on Google that the town bank, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is still there and still beautiful. I loved to go in there. At that time, believe it or not, no name or account number was on the checks; the bank employees applied the check to the correct account by signature alone. Local stores had blank checks that you could use to pay, if you’d forgotten your checkbook.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm

The Strand Theatre opened on December 4, 1916, and from then until 1987 was operated by members of the Mart family, pioneer Grinnell exhibitors, either on their own or in partnership with Central States Theatres. The current entrance to the Strand is in the building to the south of the main theater building.

Some time around 1970, George H. Mart had the Strand remodeled and renamed the Cinema. The facade of the building was then covered with a false front which has since been removed. I don’t know when the entrance was moved to the building next door where it is now located, or when the original facade of the main building was restored from its unfortunate skin condition of the 1970s.

Some of this information comes from a monograph about Grinnell’s theaters by John R. Kleinschmidt. It is available in PDF format here.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on March 20, 2010 at 1:59 am

Here is another photo. Doesn’t look too hospitable there in the winter.
http://tinyurl.com/yj5oot5

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