314 Third Avenue SE,
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The Strand Theatre opened Oct. 18, 1915. Seating capacity was 1,500. It was the first theater in Cedar Rapids with a cantilevered single balcony (previously theaters had multiple shallow balconies, with posts supporting them and blocking views). It was decorated in ivory and old rose and had twelve loge boxes and a fancy mural over the proscenium sounding board.
The theater opened as a legitimate theater with a stock acting troupe. The management of the theater hedged its' bet, by installing a photo player. A year later the actors were gone and movies and vaudeville were in.
In 1930 the theater was taken over by the Publix chain and renamed the State. In 1958 it was again modernized and fitted for Cinemascope, and renamed the World, opening with “Ben Hur”. Closed in 1981, it sat vacant until 1999 when a church occupied the theater which had been partially renovated into retail space.
A temporary drop ceiling was installed from the front edge of the balcony to the proscenium, and then again on the stage area. This effectively makes a one story area, new HVAC was installed for this main floor. The slope was also removed from the main floor, raising the level at the stage by 5 feet.
In 2003 a teen nightclub and performance venue called the Nexus opened, which has since been closed.
I have toured the balcony area and severe, but repairable damage has been done. The opera boxes flanking the proscenium were hacked off in the 1930s remodeling. During the same remodeling, planking was used to cover the walls of the balcony. Recently, that planking has begun to fall off of the walls reveling the original paint scheme and stenciling, all in surprisingly good shape.
The 1915 lightboard is still backstage and remnants of the old sandbag fly system are still backstage as well.
More photos of this and other Cedar Rapids theatres can be viewed on my website www.jeffkorns.com
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