Strand American Conservatory Theater (ACT)

1127 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

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Showing 1 - 25 of 74 comments

rivest266 on July 29, 2018 at 3:38 pm

October 26th, 1917 grand opening ad as Jewel posted.

stevenj on July 17, 2015 at 8:08 am

SF Chronicle architectural writer John King’s story (with photos) on the reopened Strand Theater. Scroll to the bottom for a 1950 photo of the marquee.


GaryParks on November 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Renovation of the Strand proceeds apace. It is still at the heavy construction stage, but is starting to move toward the more white-glove aspects of the process. The large theatre has had its new concrete risers for seating, as well as the balcony, framed and poured. It is now possible to get a good idea of how the space will appear. Restoration work on the original auditorium ceiling and sidewalls has not begun yet, but they are still there, with their simple cornice moldings and ornamented ventilation grilles preserved. Lest anyone be disappointed that there is no historic proscenium visible in the reconfigured house, be assured that there was nothing back of the later screen left to restore. The plaster of the proscenium all fell off the concrete in the Loma Prieta Quake, and had simply been covered by a quick troweling of plain plaster. The new proscenium is quite a few feet forward of the old, though structurally, the old one still exists in concrete form. Speaking now of the forward portion of the building, the views out the upper story windows of the Market Street scene are going to be wonderful. Originally this vantage point was available only to the people who lived and worked in the Strand, now many people will get to enjoy the view.

GaryParks on November 28, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Until the present renovation, the chamber for the Strand’s organ was still in existence onstage. It was obviously a later addition. It stood Stage Right, and was accessed by a conventional door. The openings where the swell shades had been were still there, though blocked by tongue-in-groove planks. The chamber was used to house Mike Thomas’s film collection, during his tenure as the Strand’s operator.

kamerachimera on November 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Strand1978, where can I view your film? I would LOVE to see it.

AndrewBarrett on April 24, 2014 at 8:31 pm

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by David L. Junchen, pg. 628, there was a two manual, seven-rank Smith theatre pipe organ installed at the Strand Theatre in San Francisco at some point. No date or further details are given.

Where is this organ (or its parts) today?

I do hope this theatre’s renovation turns out for the best, thanks!

GaryParks on March 30, 2014 at 8:42 am

The familiar neon STRAND letters from the marquee are being refurbished at an offsite location, but will be back for an encore at the theatre.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

A 2012 photo can be seen here.

davidkaye on March 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Here is a link to a story about the purchase of the Strand by ACT:

YolandaAnneBrown on March 1, 2012 at 6:12 am

I heard about ACT taking over the building. Although I know some fans would love The Strand to be reborn as a revival house, I’m glad that they’ll be life back into it.

Paula Wirth
Paula Wirth on February 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Exciting news, indeed, for those of us who love live theatre performance and historic theaters.

Here’s American Conservatory Theater’s press release:

Central Market Gains New American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Performance Venue – Transformation of Vacant Mid-Market Strand Theater Furthers Development & Revitalization of Arts District

Also: ACT to revive Mid-Market’s old Strand Theatre

strand1978 on January 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I renovated the Strand in 1977, and operated and programmed it until the late eighties. I’m appearing at Yerba Buena Center on February 16, 2012 for a screening of a film I directed (in 1968) called “Meat Rack” (which features many Market Street theatres) and hope to also talk about my experiences with the Strand. -Mike Thomas

jordanlage on September 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

Okay, let’s reflect a moment here: looking at an old Strand schedule from Nov. of ‘78… one Sunday Nov. 25 showed a QUADRUPLE feature of Deliverance, Sorcerer, Marathon Man, and Bite the Bullet. What!?!?! AND, Lana Turner & Jane Fonda made appearances at 2 separate events at the theater!?!! Beyond incredible.

Titus77 on August 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm

In the early 80s my primary way to visit SF was by bus, and the old Greyhound station was at 7th and Market. I mostly visited for concerts but occasionally would go to see movies at the art houses, and went to the Strand a few times. They had the best theatre calendars I can remember (which were an art form unto themselves). I hope it can be saved before it’s gone forever.

William on January 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

It’s a day he had at the Strand. During the porno days of the theatre.

VinceV on January 18, 2011 at 4:51 am

Then I hear it. A sound from above, the second level.
“Click … click, click … click, click, click.”
I look up. I see a haze of smoke sixty feet up hovering near the ceiling. The ceiling lights shine through the haze, creating a hellish orange glow. Then I realize what the sound is- it’s the sound of dozens of lighters firing off.
I hear a woman’s “Ahhh … ughhh … ahhh!” not from the movie, but a live voice from above. Then I hear a man’s voice: “Yeahhh take it all bitch!”
I look up. There' s something peaking over the second floor railing above. My eyes focus. Those are a chick‘s breasts flopping over the railing. Somebody unseen is pounding her from behind. This is unrestrained chaos, blatantly defying the laws of decent civilization. I love it.
I return to the lobby. The Indian guy’s reading a magazine and doesn’t look up. Above him is a sign: “No Smoking, No Drugs, No Lewd Conduct- No Exceptions!” I walk up two flights of stairs to the upper level and push through the ratty red curtain.
I can’t see. There’s no additional lighting beyond the residual light from the movie screen below. My eyes adjust slightly, but it’s still like walking in a dark tomb. I trip on a step. The air smells different somehow, I can guess the reason, a blend of crack smoke and stale semen. I reach the top where the theater seats stop and there are two rows of metal benches like you’d find at a high school football game. In the darkness, I stumble over someone who’s on the floor with their legs sticking into the aisle. He or she doesn’t move.
“I’m very sorry, please excuse me,” I say wondering whether the legs belong to someone who’s dead or dying

  • Excerpt, Memo to File from Hell by Nick Andrea (Copyright 2011)
xtracaf on August 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

THANK YOU ALL FOR THE MEMORIES!!!! Especially those of you who included photos and the movie sheets!
I first went to the Strand in late summer early autumn ‘78. My father did not allow me to listen to rock n roll… my dear stoner friend Larry took me to the Strand to see Tommy. I was 15. From then until; my mid 20s I lived for the grindhouse scene on Market Street. The Strand was always my favorite…..especially weekends! Triple bills of Clint Eastwood westerns////science fiction such as Rollerball<>Logan’s Run<>Laserblast///horror movies, etc. I used to love the quadruple bills of Russ Meyer flicks and Ilsa movies. Every so often I would wander in to the wrong movie for me such as Score or Fortune and Men’s Eyes but it was all good. I remember the sneak preview of The Road Warrior was at a midnight showing there.
My friends and I always sat mid-balcony. You could smoke what you wanted and nobody harassed you. When somebody came up the stairs their heads would block part of the screen… a few carefully aimed M&Ms or other candy would get them seated quickly. The occasional pedophile popped up but you were safe in groups. Never had the guts to venture into the back of the balcony as it was dark and emitted strange sounds you did not want to investigate.
I keep seeing mention of a bingo nights there. Unless this was before ’78 I don’t remember any such thing. There was the Ten-O-Win wheel of fortune game and the Embassy Theater next door and that might be what everyone is mentioning.
30 something years later a lot of the movie “classics” I saw there I now own on DVD. I have grown accustomed to multi-plexes and my home theater system is second to none. Still I miss that wonderful smelly place. Someone should get Quentin Tarantino to buy the place and restore it. Something tells me he would understand.

chrisjones on April 19, 2010 at 7:30 am

Back in San Francisco a few weeks back and I notice The Strand is still there. Is there any attempt whatsoever being made to ‘save it’? I find it curious that it hasn’t been levelled as it’s been destitute for so long.

RetroFan on July 27, 2009 at 9:58 am

There is now scaffolding erected on the front of THE STRAND. The ground level is also boarded off. Something being done with the building, perhaps????

MPol on July 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

Thanks for posting this cool pictures, Lost Memory!! Are there any nighttime photos, and/or photos of the interiors of the Strand and the Embassy Theatres available? Just curious.

I, too, remember the days when there were movie theatres right next door to each other and in almost every town and neighborhood around, even in our area. Those days are gone…forever. :(

prs520 on July 17, 2009 at 2:37 am

I remember seeing a triple bill in 85' which included a French movie but I don’t remember the name. It was about a love triangle between 2 men and a woman, the problem was the woman became so obsessed with sex that she would pick up strangers and after she was done having sex with them she would lock them in her bedroom where they turned into a big monster; created by and to serve her lust. I wish I could remember the name of that movie. It would be definitely fun to see those triple features again.

chrisjones on May 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I was in San francisco a few weeks ago and was mesmirised by the outside of the place (even more so, having read its history above). Could it be renovated? Several people mention above that they would willingly invest, as would I. Its always been my dream and this, it would seem, is the perfect theatre to resurrect in terms of history and potential (the area of Market Street it is in seems no longer the ‘crack haven’ area it previously was).

iatse311 on May 6, 2009 at 3:02 pm

took two pics of the exterior last weekend…i love the “Jesus is pissed” graffiti bordering the strip club billboard painted on the side…and after reading about the strand"s colorful history…its even better

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