Strand Theatre

200 E. Twiggs Street,
Tampa, FL 33601

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Strand Theatre Interior 1920s

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in the Spanish Colonial style in 1917 it opened in 1918 and was hailed as “the most beautiful theatre in the South”. The Strand Theatre featured air-cooling (not air-conditioning mind you!), twinkling stars in the ceiling and clouds that passed over the ceiling. The nearby Tampa Theatre had opened in 1926 with air conditioning and the Strand Theatre couldn’t compete, finally stopping it’s run as a theatre in the late-1940’s.

The Strand Theatre was absorbed into the Maas Brothers Department store building on that block in the late-1940s and was used for their women’s department. The Strand Theatre portion of the block was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the late-1970’s; roughly the same time as the Tampa Theatre. Maas Brothers was absorbed into the Federated Department Store chain in the 1980s and closed this location in 1991.

The whole block including the Strand Theatre was not well maintained afterward and sold in 1998 to an investor who has not maintained it since, resulting in it’s condemnation in 2000. Plans were for the city to demolish it as the owner cannot afford to, but plans for that moved very slowly, but it eventually happened.

Contributed by Todd Frary

Recent comments (view all 29 comments)

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on October 15, 2010 at 8:04 pm

A little bit of insignificant history:

When I worked downtown in the 1980s, the theatre (of course) was already part of the Maas Brothers Department Store. From the outside of the building, the “theatre appearance” had still been maintained. You could still very well think that you were walking up to a real theatre. Inside, a normal first-floor ceiling had been installed. When you walked inside the building (proceeding north), you followed a (north-south) aisle that had been created.

On your right (on the east side), running the full length of the aisle, were the display cabinets for the highly respected Maas Brothers Bakery, with passers-by stopping to purchase tasty desserts to take out. I don’t recall if there was a physical wall on the left of the aisle or just a wall of merchandise. The aisle proceeded to the rear where the former theatre building opened up to join the rest of the department store.

I also recall that on the mezzanine floor (if my recollection is correct), Maas’s had an informal restaurant and salad bar. I believe that most or all of the restaurant/salad bar was located over the theatre portion of the department store. If that recollection is correct, then it would mean that an elevated mezzanine floor had been constructed over the seating area of the former theatre.

As kids in the late 1940s, we watched Gene Autry movies and similar fare at the Strand Theatre. I don’t remember much about it from then, because I was too young. By that time it was no longer considered a first run theatre, but still a respectable place for kids and families to go.

Dick W.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on October 16, 2010 at 9:16 am

This is a circa 1987 picture of a Maas Brothers trailer, but you can see the Strand Theatre in the background. There was an alley along Twiggs between the Strand and another building, which was the Maas Brothers delivery entrance.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on October 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm

That is a neat picture. I’ve stood next to that alley many times (when I was younger), waiting for the bus. The bus stop was right there where the alley was. Thanks!

Nunzienick
Nunzienick on October 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

The Strand had already been closed for a few years by the time my interest in theatres had begun so I never had a chance to see a movie here. When the building was still standing I’d walked pass the entrance just about every day during my lunch hour curiously wondering what the theatre interior had looked like before being absorbed into Maas Brothers.

Dick, You’re right. The upper portion of the elevated floor constructed within the former theatre auditorium (the Mezzanine) became Maas' famous Suncoast Restaruant where I had lunch at many times. In looking at the photo of the auditorium interior, the walls in the restaurant evidently were left pretty much as they were when the building housed the Strand.

Each time I had lunch here I’d scope out the rear wall of the restaurant where the projection booth stood. The men’s restroom was located at just about the spot where the booth would have been. But try as I might I couldn’t find any tell-tale sign of the former booth at all.

Today that entire block is a parking lot. It’s a shame the front facade of the theatre was not salvaged. It had that classic “movie theatre” design. The Strand was a Florida State Theatre for several years prior to closing and was considered to have been a deluxe theatre in it’s day. I would have loved to have seen a movie here!

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on October 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for the additional details, Nick. I should have done more exploring during those lunch visits, but I guess you never fully appreciate something until it’s gone.

I was looking at a 1955 high school yearbook, and there was an ad from the “Florida State Theaters”. It listed the Tampa, Palace, Florida, Seminole, Garden, Springs, and Hillsboro Drive-In theatres. The ad used the spelling “Theaters”, not “Theatres” in the company title, but this was probably an error by the yearbook staff.

Yes, I wish they could have preserved the facade. What a shame.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on October 19, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I remember seeing a bunch of pictures of the Maas Brothers interior, including the Strand portion. They disappeared from Flickr for whatever reason, and I never thought to look for any theater-y details.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

Thanks guys enjoy the stories.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on August 2, 2011 at 6:17 am

This photo was listed on eBay as “Interior Strand Theatre 1920s”. It’s hard to read writing on photo, it doesn’t seem to say “Strand”.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on August 2, 2011 at 3:09 pm

It looks like “Strand” to me. Cool find!

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on August 3, 2011 at 6:08 am

Wow! Fantastic interior photo. This had to have been taken about the time when the theatre first opened. Later shots show a slighlty more modern look with curtains within the proscenium. Thanks for posting!

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