Strand Theatre

1021 10th Street,
Modesto, CA 95354

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Strand Theatre

The Strand Theatre in Modesto opened December 10, 1920 and was built at a cost of $250,000. The theatre had 1,800 seats, crystal chandeliers and murals in the lobby, rich carpets, a stage, orchestra pit, and a Wurlitzer pipe organ.

During its run, the Strand Theatre hosted silent films, vaudeville, plays, talkies, and community functions. Like so many of the downtown theatres, it slowly grew old and seedy. Last operated by Redwood Theatres, in 1971 the fire marshal closed the Strand Theatre. In 1984, talk of restoration ended when a fire closed the Strand Theatre for good.

Overzealous urban renewal leveled most of downtown Modesto, including both the Stand Theatre and the nearby Covell Theatre. Currently, there is a brand new Brenden Theatres 18 where the Strand Theatre used to stand.

Contributed by DSTNE, William

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

JCL on March 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Hello Billie J, My comment above yours regarding the old Strand in Modesto (JCL). My period of ‘sat. matinees’ was the late ‘40s early '50s. One of my local theatres, (growing up in Sacramento) always had great matinees. Your ref to 'Pepsi caps’: Theatres would cross promote with: Pepsi or Coca-Cola; Carnation or Dixie Cup ice cream, etc. Sponsors would pay for the film program and theatre would cross promote with ads on screen and/or lobby posters, etc. My local theatre always ran: 2-3 features, which always had 1-2 westerns + serial chapter + short like 3 stooges + several cartoons. Usually a halfway break would have a ‘stage giveaway’ of 10-15 toys, games; books, etc. The mgr or couple ushers would call out ticket stub numbers. Show would always be about 4hrs of fun. Keep those memories alive. JCL

Patsy on May 6, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Sad photo and it had a Wurlitzer organ! Haven’t read the posts so don’t know if the Wurlitzer was saved.

Patsy on May 6, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Even urban renewal found its way to downtown Modesto according to the historical information at the top of this link.

Patsy on May 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Tom DeLay: What other information can you give me in regards to the Wurlitzer that was once in the Strand?

kencmcintyre on May 15, 2009 at 2:35 am

Here is an August 1934 ad from the Modesto Bee:

Patsy on May 15, 2009 at 10:53 am

ken mc: Interesting ad, but so was the article nearby entitled Pastor Is Under Observation After Appearing In Nude!

kencmcintyre on May 15, 2009 at 1:06 pm

He was at the beach with his wife and five children. For no reason he took off his bathing suit and began screaming and running around naked. He also tried to eat a bunch of sand. The cops showed up and after a half hour struggle they put him in the wagon and took him away.

SoiledDude on July 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I remember wandering around the outside of the Strand as a kid in Modesto (‘71 – '80). Old theaters always caught my interest… I would peer through the cracks in the front doors and look at the old wild west decor. Always wanted to go in and explore, photograph, and appreciate. I am deeply saddened that a fire destroyed the place and that it has been demolished for the sake of a new theater.

littleprince1977 on October 6, 2010 at 1:53 am

Fall ‘73 I was a freshman at Modesto Junior College in a Photo Journalism Class.
Class assignment: Photo Essay.
Topic I decided upon was “Modesto’s Downtown Decay”.

Strand Marquee at that time: “For Sale by Crismon” (some letters missing)
I was able to use an unhindered fire escape to climb to the top of the Strand Theatre.

From that vantage point: I have shots of the backside of the Covell Theatre (The theatre I thought would be standing long after the State (still standing) or the Strand (fire; possible arson for $)) and Hotel Hughson.

Long shots of much of the GONE 60’s classic downtown Modesto…showing Hotel Hughson sign, Topper, Town&Country, KRESS, Leed’s Shoes, Hartfield’s, Roger’s, BofA, Crocker Bank, Loebs. ALL GONE. Nichol’s News Sign – GONE The SEARS & Robuck store GONE, (now a Hotel…name changed to protect the guilty)
Bus Stop bench at 10&K Looking toward WoolWorth’s and the Strand. NOW is SmithBarney and Starbuck’s Ped. Mall and the Bus Stop Bench is a hotel grass lot.

J.C. Penney’s in downtown Modesto is now a City of Modesto Office Building.
Modesto Quiz: View link

I need to scan my photos and add them on-line or else history will be lost.
Europe keeps it’s buildings for centuries…California can only date it’s buildings by 5-10 years.

DavidZornig on December 5, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Photo added, likely the 1961 Civil War centennial re-release of “Gone With The Wind” at the Strand.

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