RKO Strand Theatre

214 S. Main Street,
Dayton, OH 45402

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The Strand Theater   photo from Dayton Metro Library

Originally the National Theatre, it opened on 16th August 1904 with 2,300 seats. The opening production was the musical Comedy “The Show Girl”. It was designed by New York architect J.W. Yost. It became the Lyceum Theatre in 1913. In 1914 it was B.F. Keith’s Theatre, but suffered damage to the back stage area in a 1916 fire. Repairs were carried out and it reopened as the Strand Theatre ON December 23, 1916, showing movies only. The RKO Strand Theatre was destroyed by a fire on January 27, 1943. The film playing that week was Fred McMurray in “Forrest Rangers”, which was about fires in the timberlands. The fire had begun in an adjacent restaurant. The theatre was never rebuilt and today the Convention Center sits on the site.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

hanksykes on August 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm

One of the theaters owned by Ike Libson of Mid-West Theaters of Cincinnati,Ohio.It had been involved in the 1913 Dayton flood,afterwhich the film business continued. So you could say it had been visited by water and fire!

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm







Open August 16, 1904

Closed June 26, 1943

Owned by L. Libson Circuit 1930-1935?

Anyone have more info or photos?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

The Strand was a Keith vaudeville house from 1915 until switching to movies near the end of the silent era, according to this item from the October 5, 1929, issue of Motion Picture News:

“Strand, Dayton, To Re-Open; Cincinnati News

“STRAND, Dayton. Ohio, a Keith house since 1915, which closed recently after silent movies had proved a failure, will reopen middle of October equipped with sound. A new 10-year lease has been secured, and improvements are being made by the Fox interests who recently acquired the house in the Keith-Libson-Heidingsfeld deal. G. Claude Miller will be retained as manager.”

The November 23 issue of the same journal had a bit more about the deal in which Fox acquired the Strand:
“Additional Fox Shares For Purchase Of Libson Chain

“Fox Film Corporation has made application for the listing of an additional 51,360 shares of Class A common stock on the New York Stock Exchange, the additional shares to be used in the transaction through which Fox acquires the Libson & Heidings circuit of twelve theatres in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.”

Late 1929 was a terrible time for Fox to be issuing new shares, so it’s likely that he was unable to sell them and the deal collapsed. He lost control of his entire company in 1930. As the Strand became an RKO house, and RKO was a descendant of the merged Keith-Albee and Orpheum vaudeville circuits, the house apparently went back to its previous owners.

hanksykes on December 4, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Once again the knowledge of Vogel is correct. While we are at it in which state do you reside. Until soon,Hank

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm

I live in California, formerly in suburban Los Angeles but now in a backwater in the northern Sierra foothills. I can’t really claim the knowledge as mine, though, as it’s all stuff I’ve dug up on the Internet, mostly at the Internet Archive which has a large collection of old theater industry trade journals.

hanksykes on December 5, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hello California Joe, Nice to leard where you are from, and I reside in Cincinnati,Ohio. Really like Cinema Treasures. Until soon,Hank

hanksykes on December 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Hello Again Joe, I can’t believe that Universal Studios tore down the 1925 soundstage#28 which held the interior set of the Paris Opera House from the Lon Chaney silent “Phantom Of The Opera”. The destruction took place in Sept. of 2014. I’m so saddened by this. Until soon,Hank

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 22, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Papers in the Pretzinger Architectural Collection reveal that Albert Pretzinger’s firm did some work on the Strand Theatre in 1924. There is no indication of the nature of the work or its extent.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 22, 2017 at 5:24 pm

If this house was called B. F. Keith’s Theatre, it must have been but briefly, after the Keith circuit took control of it in 1915 and before they took over the Colonial the following year. The name B. F. Keith’s Theatre belonged to the Colonial from 1916 to 1921. I’ve found an item in the November 3, 1917, issue of The Moving Picture World which notes sequential personal appearances recently made by popular child star Violet McMillan at both Keith’s Theatre and the Strand in Dayton.

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