The building that houses the Hamburg Strand Theater was built in 1799, and was one of the first properties to be built when the town was laid out. Located at 6 South and 4th Street, it was a Federal style house, which was later, turned into a restaurant, before being converted to the theater in 1920.
Owners David and Ella Schlear opened the Strand to the public on Christmas Day of 1920 showcasing their large screened theater with 500 seats. The family home was located above the theater; the front section of the building was rented out as a barbershop. The Schlear’s son Ed took over ownership in 1935, and he added a new entryway, ticket booth, marquee, and neon lights as well as Modern projection equipment and an updated interior. Since then the Theatre has ungone many owners and numerous renovations; the barbershop became a video rental store (among other things) and a concession stand and lobby were built. The Strand now holds 200 seats and remains a single screen theater.
The first “talky” at the Strand was “Untamed”, shown in March of 1930. Prior to that, pianists and later records provided music during the silent film era. On Tuesday and Wednesday a “B picture” film was shown; Friday evening was cowboy night; Saturday offered the more publicized films. During popular movies the kids sat in the aisle; otherwise the girls sat on the left and boys on the right.
Ownership has changed hands numerous times since the Schlear’s owned the theater. The last change in ownership occurred on March 28, 2013 when the Our Town Foundation, Hamburg’s Community Revitalization Organization, a 501c-3 purchased the theater to prevent its demise.
The Foundations intentions are to switch the projection equipment to digital in the near future, as the film companies will soon stop making traditional 35 mm film prints. Other necessary upgrades will be made on the building such as hard wired smoke detectors to ensure the safety of the audience, and improved lighting.
We will continue showing movies on weekends and hope to schedule other entertainment such as comedy shows, open mic nights, bands and other live performances in the future. In addition we hope to offer art classes in the side room in addition to displaying visual art throughout. The theater could also serve as a location for “Meet the Artist” nights and other arts related activities.
The theater currently is, and will remain a community hub. With your support, we can sustain the theater for future generations.