Strand Theatre

79 Washington Street,
Providence, RI 02903

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Related Websites

Strand Theatre (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix

Architects: Thomas J. Hill Pierce

Functions: Concerts, Live Performances

Previous Names: Paramount Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 401.331.5876

Nearby Theaters

Strand Theatre

The Strand Theatre was located directly behind Providence’s Biltmore Hotel. It opened on June 12, 1915 as a movie theatre, it also had stage facilities, which came into use in later years. It was equipped with a Moller 2 manual 15 ranks organ which was enlarged to a 3 manual 28 ranks instrument in 1917. Two more ranks were added in 1924.

Taken over by Publix it was briefly known as the Paramount Theatre from June 20, 1930. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 3 manual 14 ranks organ which was opened by organist Joe Alexander. The Strand Theatre name was restored on August 15, 1934. It was twinned in the 1970’s when it was operating as an adult theatre. It closed as a movie house in 1978. In the 1990’s, it became a fairly popular live concert venue, but eventually closed.

The Strand Theatre then became home to a nightclub. It is now used for live performances/concerts and was known as Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel. In 2017 it was renamed Strand Theatre once again.

Contributed by Charles D'atri, William

Recent comments (view all 49 comments)

rkq on July 31, 2009 at 11:56 pm

The Strand……The day it closed I was the projectionist on duty. That year….the mayor was trying to clean the city of porn. So if a theater was raided they’d arrest the cashier or manager. Well the licence board came up with a new law….instead of the manager or cashier, they would go after the owner of the business. That same afternoon the law was passed the owner came in told me to turn the film off…the audiance got their money back and told to leave… and that was the end of the Strand showing films. The last few years of its life it was actually twined. Under the balcony was walled in making 2 small auditoriums, the balcony the stage and stage fittings were left all intact, I actually went back stage once and awhile turning the lights up exploring. When it was twinned they left the original equipment in the booth upstairs, they figured it would be to much trouble to move down. Another interesting story…when the theater was a single, they decided to motorize the main curtain. Well the stage hand union told them… no you need a union stagehand to open and close the curtain for each show. Well that was the day the curtain opened……and never closed again.

Larc on June 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm

A 3/14 Wurlitzer Balaban 2 (opus 2112) was installed in 1930 when Paramount-Publix leased the old Strand. The console was destroyed by a hurricane in 1938 as has already been mentioned, but the remainder of the organ was eventually sold to an individual in Providence. It has been owned since 2001 by a known theatre organ enthusiast in Minnesota.

The original Strand organ was a 2/15 Moller (#1939) installed in 1915. It was substantially enlarged to 3/28 in 1917 (new #2267) and again in 1924 with the addition of two ranks of pipes and more percussions (3/30 as new #3990). There’s no indication about the fate of the Moller.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 16, 2010 at 9:20 am

Item about theatre organs in Boxoffice Magazine, December 22, 1956:

“The Sunday Journal devoted the entire front page of the amusement section to a feature story on the removal of the once-famous organs in the Strand, (Loew’s) State, and Majestic. Carrying a picture of Chester McLean, Strand house-manager, and pictures of the relics of the organs, the article stirred up many nostalgic memories for older moviegoers. A resident of nearby Hope Valley, Theo Smith, is buying up the instruments "to save them from the scrap pile.” He repairs the organs, donating them to churches. He is also assembling a complete unit for his home."

CDAtri on October 29, 2010 at 3:43 am

A quick question for those who worked at the theater in its' various incarnations. I happened to see several disused old dressing rooms, including lighted mirrors, going up a couple of levels, in the backstage area at the Strand when it was operating as a rock club. Given the historical record, can you explain the dressing rooms? Did they run vaudeville acts along with the movies in the early days? Strippers with the dirty movies? Can’t figure it out….

CDAtri on October 29, 2010 at 3:44 am

Were the early orchestras the only live entertainment in the movie era?

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on October 29, 2010 at 4:21 am

The Strand was opened in 1915 as a movie theatre, not as a vaudeville house. In the first years it was against the law to show movies on Sundays in Providence theatres. So live musical events often filled the bill…such as the recital here by the great tenor John McCormack. That would have required dressing rooms for the performers. See the comments posted above on October 11 & 12, 2008.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on January 12, 2011 at 8:20 am

In an unusual bit of programming in February 1921, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid was booked simultaneously in five downtown Providence theatres: the Strand, the Emery, the Modern, Fays, and the Rialto. Occasionally some highly anticipated movies might play in two downtown theatres, but never five! It seems to have run only one week, in an era when that was pretty much the norm, with films running a single week downtown, then moving to second run theatres and outlying houses. Each of these theatres accompanied this feature with short subjects or live Vaudeville acts.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on May 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Strand Theatre. It’s Card # 550. There is an exterior photo taken in April 1941 showing the huge, long marquee. The Report states the address as 85 Washington Street. Someone wrote next to the theater name “a.k.a. Paramount”. The house in in Good Condition, and does not exhibit MGM product. There were 1,500 seats on the main floor, but no further seating figures. The 1,500 figure for the main floor alone may not be correct.

tntim on September 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm

According to this article in Encore, the nightclub has undergone a revamp, and has returned the “Strand” name back to the venue. Link

ScottJ794 on April 14, 2023 at 11:09 am

Great info, but the address you list is incorrect. 84 Washington Street would be across the street. The Strand is on the odd side.

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