Strand Theater

527 Duval Street,
Key West, FL 33040

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Strand Theater

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Strand Theater opened in the early-1920’s and became the home of the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium in 1993.

The theater was sold in December 2001 and closed in April 2002. It has since become the another branch of the Walgreens pharmacy empire.

Many of the historic elements of the theater will be saved, however, including its facade, marquee, various aspects of the interior, the lobby tile, marble stairs, and wood floors.

Contributed by Cinema Treasures

Recent comments (view all 71 comments)

Robt1951 on January 29, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Yes, I remember the Picture Show on Duval St. in the late 70’s. That was an excellent documentary about Key West that it showed. Wasn’t “The Last Resort” in the title, or am I confusing that, too? I think this theater sometimes played “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” late at night.


DonSolosan on January 29, 2008 at 10:21 pm

I think you’re right about the Rocky Horror showings, but wrong about The Last Resort part (I checked my VHS copy). Now that I think about it, I seem to remember that The Key West Picture Show played during the day, but at night they played alternative/cult-type movies. It was my first exposure to repertory programming. I saw A Boy And His Dog there, if memory serves.

What’s weird is that I shot a lot of film while living there, but didn’t take a single picture of any of the movie theaters.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 8, 2008 at 4:34 am

A 2003 view of the Strand Theater without the Walgreens sign and with it here. How did Key West let this happen!?

Bway on May 4, 2009 at 9:46 am

It’s nice that at least the exterior was preserved.

tere on June 30, 2009 at 6:52 pm

I worked at the Strand in ‘71 at the concession stand. My best friend worked in the ticket bubble. The concession had a window opening directly on the street so people would come by and visit and I could see all the people “crusing” What a blast back in those days!!! Does anyone know what happened to that ticket bubble? It was allready vintage in '71. The Strand was a “B” theater by then and the movie I remember distinctly was the “Last House on the Left”. Scary ! The Strand did have a balcony.

JackCoursey on January 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

There was little to nothing left of the Strand’s original interior when Ripley’s decided to abandon the theatre and move down to the east end of Duval. Walgreen’s put a considerable amount of money and effort into restoring as much of the theatre as possible. 2010 photos of the façade and the marquee.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 17, 2011 at 2:32 am

The Flickr photostream of the Florida Keys Public Libraries has three interesting vintage photos of the Strand.

This 1960 photo (the year “September Storm” was released) was taken for the local property appraiser’s office, and the caption says that the Strand was built in 1924.

However, this photo from the early 1920s shows the theater with the same basic form, but a rather different style of facade. The caption of this photo dates it to 1922, but the movie on the marquee was released in 1921. A banner over the entrance says “Our First Birthday,” so perhaps the theater opened in 1921 and brought the same movie it opened with back for its anniversary in 1922. Or perhaps the caption is wrong, and the theater opened in 1920 and had its anniversary in 1921, when “The Man From Lost River” was released.

In either case, the Strand was clearly operating before 1924, but equally clearly it had a rather extensive remodeling done to its facade, probably within a few years of its opening, going from what looks to me like a stripped-down version of American Art Nouveau, to the much more ornate Mannerist-Spanish Colonial style it retained throughout the rest of its history.

What prompted the early remodeling I don’t know. Maybe the original theater was destroyed and only the front wall survived to be incorporated into a rebuilt house, with the addition of a new parapet and decoration, though I haven’t been able to find any references on the Internet to such an event.

The third photo is this color postcard, a nocturnal view of Duval Street with the Strand’s marquee in the foreground. The postcard is undated, and there is no movie name on the Strand’s marquee, but the San Carlos Theatre can also be seen, down the block on the other side of the street, and in the largest size of the photo the name “Give a Girl a Break” can be read on it’s marquee. That movie was released in 1953.

jrhine on November 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Did the Strand Theater have an organ? I can’t find any mention of one.

Trolleyguy on December 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

As evidenced by the interior picture, there is really nothing left to suggest it was a movie theater at one time. The exterior has been wonderfully restored, though.

HowardBHaas on March 15, 2016 at 5:09 am

I am told the ticket booth was also used by Ripley’s.

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