Strand Theatre

1-12 Church Street,
Westfield, MA 01085

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

A book published in 1919, Westfield Quarter-Millennium, has this line: “A spacious new theater, ‘The Strand’ was recently erected on Church Street and ‘The New Nickel’ is located on Elm Street, near Bartlett.”

The Massachusetts district police report for the year ending October 31, 1917, lists only the New Nickel Theatre and a house called Columbia Hall in Westfield, so the Strand must have opened sometime between late 1917 and early 1919.

JLD on February 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm

It was closed in 1979. “Thank God It’s Friday” was the last movie shown there! Then it turned into a disco nightclub until 1981 when a small fire broke out that summer. They tore it down in 1984 and turned the ground into a parking lot.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on November 23, 2010 at 12:36 pm

In addition to the Strand and the Rialto, the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook also lists an Opera House in Westfield, 3 film venues in all. The 1927 population of Westfield was 18,600.

alaskavic on June 14, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Walt owned the Strand? I never knew that, I worked on a public access show with Walt, the “New Music Showcase” a couple of years back. He still does the show and last I heard he has retired as a projectionist from the Enfield Cinema.
I remember when the Strand had dollar nights and would show movies like Led Zeppelins' The Song Remains The Same, we would smoke a couple fatties, eat some shrooms and just dig the hell out of it.
Back when I was a kid mom would ship me and my 6 brothers and 2 sisters off to the Strand or if she had extra jingles the higher class theater the Park, the Park was about a block or two south of the Strand on Main street (rt 20) The Park is still there but has bbeen gutted and now contains a dance studio and a couple of small stores/offices

dlesiege on October 16, 2007 at 12:47 pm

The Strand was open through at least 1975 – 1976, as I managed it for a time, while I was in college. At the time, it was being run by a company called WG Enterprises, owned by a Holyoke native named Walter Gonnet.

I first met Wally when he was a projectionist at the Victory in Holyoke. He was also working at the new 2 screen mall cinema off Northampton St. behind McDonalds. I subsequently worked with him there as well. Later, Wally started to lease some of the old area theaters and run them. These included the Strand in Westfield and the Grand in Indian Orchard.

It was at the Strand, that Wally taught me the basics of how to run the old 1920’s vintage carbon arc projectors that were in the Strand, Grand, Victory and all of the other old movie houses, how to splice film when it broke and all of the other things a projectionist did.

Good thing too, because on more than one occasion, a projectionist would be late or call in sick just before showtime and I ended up in the projection booth either starting or running the entire show. I recall that because of the carbon arc lighting and probably also due to the flammability of the old nitrite film stock (even though long out of use), that projectionists were required to have a special license. So in addition to the nerves of a rookie having to play emergency projectionist, I remember being worried about the possibility of being busted for not being licensed.

At that time, being the projectionsit was a fairly busy job. The Carbon Arc lamps in the projectors were screw fed, but the burn rate was never perfect relative to the feed, so it required monitoring and frequent adjustment to make sure it stayed lit. A break in the film was almost inevitable at any given showing, especially since these were bargain 2nd sub run theaters. The prints usually had quite a bit of milage on them. So at any moment you had to be ready to pull the reels off the projector, splice the film as fast as you could and get it back on and running while the crowd below you got increasingly restless.

I don’t recall when the Strand closed for good, but I do think that it stood vacant for a number of years, probably into the 1980’s. I don’t know what caused it’s ultimate demise, but seem to recall hearing about a fire and it being torn down after that.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 29, 2007 at 9:56 am

In the 1927 Film Daily Yearbook, the Strand in Westfield is listed as having 1400 seats and being open 7 days per week. They also list a Rialto Theatre in Westfield with 600 seats and open 7 days. In the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac, the Strand in Westfield is listed as part of Western Mass. Theatres (Nathan Goldstein) of Springfield.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on November 5, 2005 at 7:50 am

In the 1940’s the 1,200 seat Strand Theatre was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary N. Goldstein.

Patsy on November 5, 2005 at 6:58 am

I recently visited Westfield MA enroute to a wedding in CT, but didn’t know that this community had a theatre so can anyone provide photo(s)?

William on December 13, 2003 at 11:12 am

“Cool Hand Luke” was released in 1967 by Warner Bros..

sdoerr on December 12, 2003 at 7:18 pm

A year would be useful….