Strand Theatre

128 Central Street,
Lowell, MA 01852

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 28, 2018 at 1:51 pm

The March 11, 1940 obituary of Lowell architect Harry Prescott Graves in The Lowell Sun mentioned both the Strand and the Merrimack Square theatres as being among his works. It’s possible that Graves acted only as supervising architect for Funk & Wilcox, or he might have been a collaborator on the design. So far I’ve found no other references about Graves' involvement in the project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 2, 2011 at 4:05 am

Responding to the comments by Prov (March 16, 2008) and Ron Salters (October 19, 2008,) I’ve found this item in the trade journal The Moving Picture World, issue of August 19, 1916: “LOWELL, MASS.â€"Archts. Funk & Wilcox, 120 Boylston street, Boston, are preparing plans for a two-story theater, store and office building, 52 by 115 feet, and 106 by 151 feet.” The project must have been the Strand.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

The Strand in Lowell is listed in the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook as having 1,763 seats and open daily.

RCBriley on April 23, 2010 at 6:16 pm

My friends and I used to go to the Lowell Strand as part of a monthly slumber party when I was in Jr High. Dad would drive us all up and drop us off; he’d pick us girls up after the movie and my friends would all stay overnight at my house in Bedford. Tickets at the Strand were a dollar and we always sat in the balcony where we had to drape our legs over the row of seats in front of us to have enough leg room. I remember seeing “Gone With the Wind” (a revival showing, not a new release) there as well as “House of Dark Shadows” and “Night of Dark Shadows” (hardly top rank movies but very appropriate to the Strand’s ambiance). I remember the place as having sort of decaying elegance. It was way more fun to go there than to one of the newer, more expensive theaters.

Rtprovencher on February 23, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Let me reflect on the postings since my last comment back in December, 2009…
I remember the Strand first-hand quite well. To the left of the Strand’s entrance on Central Street was its office building which did straddle the canal. Originally 2 stories, it was ripped down to one story which was occupied by a higher end men’s shop: Martin’s. To the right of the strand were two buildings (a hair academy in the smaller building, and Talbot’s Clothing Store next to that and occupying the Central/ Warren Street corner). In a sense, the Strand had to be wrapped around those two buildings.
The Strand’s Central Street entrance was a log corridor stretching from Central Street to the theater itself. The theater’s lobby, a small affair perpendicular to the entry corridor, was tucked under the balcony and exited to Warren Street. At the Warrent Street exit, there was a small parking lot belonging to the theater which we frequently used.
With regards to the fate of the Strand…after it closed it lay vacant and vandalized (e. g. vandals had managed to tie a rope to the ceiling where the great chandalier had once hung and used it to swing back-and-forth Tarzan-style). Its only hope lay in its being adapted as a ballroom for the then abuilding Lowell Hilton, but that proved unfeasable economically, and the Strand was knocked down.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 21, 2010 at 2:35 am

The July 14, 1969, issue of Boxoffice ran a single-line item saying that the Strand in Lowell had been remodeled.

Boxoffice of March 3, 1975, reported that the Strand Theatre had been sold to a Cambridge developer named Raymond A. Carye. The developer’s plans were not firm, but rehabilitation of the Strand as a cinema-restaurant-cultural center was mentioned, as well as conversion of the building into offices.

jimroy on February 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Hi Dave. The picture you posted is the same building as the one that Ron had in the picture from 1950. Obviuosly the marquee is changed and the facede is covered up. The building just to the right is at 130 Central Street, and is visible in Ron’s photo. Jst to the rifgt of that is now the Lowell Academy of Hair school.
Is there anyway to correct the address listed as Warren St to the proper one on Central St?

Dave Cushion
Dave Cushion on February 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Hey J.V.! Nice pictures! Was checking out your Crown Theater pics and didn’t recognize where the theater was until I remembered the building to the right – It used to be a video arcade back in the late 70’s, early 80’s.

jimroy on February 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hold on, I got that wrong. Should’ve checked my notes before I posted. It was at 128 Central, the other side of the Street. Will have to go back tomorrow for the correct shots.

jimroy on February 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Ron sent me the photo and I’ve posted it in its own gallery that I will add to as I can. While looking into other thearers today I checked the Lowell business directorys and found the Strand listed at 129 Central St. from 1918 to 1972. It was in the “Strand building” listed at 119 and it appears the at the whole block commening at 111 was built on top of the Pawtucket Canal. I took some shots of the site today which essentially is just a bridge on certral St going over the canal. The last address before the canal is 103 and the first after is 135.

Rtprovencher on December 1, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Dave C’s photo is a sad reminder of what the Strand looked like at the end. Previously, as Ron Salters stated, the Strand had a grand 2-story entrance with a triangular marquee and a beautiful ticket booth in the center. There was a two-story office building to the left of the entrance which belonged to the Strand. In time one story was trimmed off and Martin’s occupied the first floor retail space.
From windows in the rear of Martin’s, one could view the Hamilton Canal, which ran underneath, and to the right one could see the theater building itself (it is also visible in Dave C’s photo to the right rear). What actually shows in the photo is the back of the auditorium itself. The entrance and the auditorium were connected by a long, nicely decorated hall. At the end of the hall one would turn right into the theater lobby. There was a long-broken fountain on the left and a nice concession stand on the right. That lobby space was actually under the theater’s balcony (remember the Strand was an auditorium-style theater: the balcony was actually a continuation of the orchestra section, but steeper). As I’ve mentioned before, the theater suffered from decades of neglect…it was not a nice place…nor would it have been my choice of Lowell theaters to save.

Dave Cushion
Dave Cushion on November 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

Thanks Ron! I’d love to see that picture!

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 20, 2009 at 11:10 am

I contrasted Dave C’s color photo of the Strand facade with the 1950 photo on the MGM Report. In 1950, the building to the left was 2 stories high and the large arch above the Strand’s entrance was not covered over. The theater had a triangular marquee of typical 1940s appearance.

Dave Cushion
Dave Cushion on November 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Here is the photo I have of the Strand Theatre. Enjoy!

View link

Dave Cushion
Dave Cushion on November 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm

Just remembered – the store that was torn down was not McQuades. It was Martin’s.

Dave Cushion
Dave Cushion on November 18, 2009 at 11:40 am

I have a photo of the Strand Theatre from the mid 70’s – it was taken at a “Save the Strand” rally that had the New England Patriots Cheerleaders performing. I won’t say how old I was back then! :)

I wish I could upload this photo here!

The main entrance was on Central Street and had exit doors on Warren Street.

On the site right now is nothing. The Strand was torn down along with a store next door to it (I think it was called McQuades) and was left as is. The Hamilton Canal ran underneath both buildings and when they were torn down, the canal was exposed and was left like that. I believe that some of the Doubletree hotel (now U-Mass dorm rooms) occupies some of the space that the theatre bowl once occupied.

rt66nm on June 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm

I also disagree with Prov. per “…it was not a particularly good looking theater…just big…like a warehouse.” In addition to descriptions by others, I’d add there was an a nice external foyer where folks could stand out of the weather waiting in line or for friends and once you entered the French doors(?), there was ‘The Hall of Mirrors"…a ‘few’ big framed mirrors across from one another going down the entry that produced a 'visual echo’ whereby looking into one you saw yourself looking into the other behind you whereby you then saw your actual self looking into the mirror etc. etc. etc. LOL On one side of the transverse aisle separating the balcony from the lower level, there was a 4 footish high wood paneled wall, topped by about a foot high, velvet “curtain” on a rod that was connected to “brass” posts. Never knew the purpose…maybe it was so the usher could poke his/her hand through to whop on the head those in that back row who were necking too heavily…LOL. I’m pretty sure all theaters did it, but there was something special when the big curtain opened to reveal the logo of the movie behind another transparent curtain which then opened. Can’t remember if there were at least one (no longer used) “box seating” along each side wall. Last film I saw was South Pacific with Kathleen before I went off to college where I next saw West Side Story in Grauman’s Chinese which I thought was nice but didn‘t overwhelm me…well OK, there’s also the hand and feet prints in cement out front. Pardon me now while I go eat some Good & Plentys.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 19, 2008 at 10:26 am

Prov. says above that whoever designed the Strand in the Dorchester section of Boston also designed the Strand in Lowell. The Strand in Dorchester, which opened in 1918, was designed by the firm of Funk and Wilcox.

Rtprovencher on March 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

Take a look at my posting on 12/14/05…the Strand was a wreck which had been closed for years. A hotel does indeed sit on part of the area occupied by the Strand. The incorporation of the old theater into the new hotel proved cost ineffective: the Strand was simply too far gone. BUT, have no regrets, despite all that has been posted the Strand was a good, but not great, theater. Whoever designed the Lowell Strand, also designed the Strand in Dorchester (Boston). That venue turned out a lot better. The Lowell Opera House (Gates) and R. K. O. Keith’s were far superior to the Strand.

drvmusic on November 30, 2007 at 6:36 am

No idea. I never saw the actual theatre, though I grew up in the area. I just remember that article from the Sun. I know there’s a parking garage next to the Doubletree. Perhaps that’s where it was?

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 29, 2007 at 1:24 pm

Which is now the Doubletree hotel. Does it actually occupy the same site as the former theatre?

drvmusic on November 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

According to the article, from what I remember (it’s been a long time) the land was supposed to be used for the Lowell Hilton.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on November 29, 2007 at 1:14 pm

So, why was it demolished if not to make way for new construction?

drvmusic on November 29, 2007 at 1:09 pm

I recall seeing an article on the Strand’s demolition in The Lowell Sun. It showed the exposed auditorium with the seating. It’s pretty much that picture that spurred my interest in old theatres. Anyone with access to the Sun’s archives to find that pic?