144 E. Wisconsin Avenue,
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Architects: Alfred Charles Clas
The Strand Theatre was built at 144 E. Wisconsin Avenue in 1920 with its grand opening in 1921. Its main claim to fame was hosting the World Premiere of “The Wizard of Oz” from August 12 through August 16, 1939. The theatre closed under Harry Melcher Enterprises' Unity Theatres Circuit in the 1950’s and was converted to retail in June of 1960 through June 1968. The neighboring bank purchased the building for parking and drive-through banking razing the former Strand Theatre in October of 1969.
Prior to the Strand Theatre, the Crystal Theatre and Palace Theatre were in competition and the Strand Theatre basically replaced the Palace Theatre which closed in 1921. The Strand Theatre featured a Barton organ and outclassed George Huebner’s Crystal Theatre. Huebner bought the Strand Theatre and would eventually close the Crystal Theatre which became a dry cleaning operation.
Huebner equipped the Strand Theatre with a Vitaphone sound system later in the decade. He sold the theatre to Unity Theatres Circuit under Harry Melcher in December of 1952. Melcher removed the Barton organ and made improvements to try and compete with television. But the Strand Theatre’s days were numbered and the theatre went dormant converting to retail prior to its 1969 demolition.
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