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.
It’s no secret that the theater has changed hands many time since it was owned by the Schlear family. The most recent change in ownership occurred on March 28, 2013 when Our Town Foundation, Hamburg’s Community Revitalization Organization, purchased the theater to prevent it’s demise.
The theater currently is, and will remain, a community hub. We plan on continuing the sustainability of The Strand so that future generations can enjoy the local landmark.
December of 2020 marked The Strand’s 100th Anniversary!
Shortly after Our Town Foundation purchased the theater, a capital campaign was initiated. With the community’s support and grant funds received, approximately $250,000 in renovations and improvements were made to date, including:
- Upgrade to digital projector
- Installed a Dolby surround sound system with enhancing amplifiers
- Replaced film screen
- Added two bathrooms on the main level and renovated the existing one
- Refurbished the historic marquee
- Beautified the lobby and auditorium with new carpeting
- Installed new HVAC system- conversion from oil to gas and mini splits
- Repaired masonry on the exterior walls
- Installed a new roof
- Restored entry doors to theater
- Installed new hardwood flooring on the stage
- Replaced vinyl flooring behind concession stand
- Painted both the interior and exterior of the property
- Upgraded to energy efficient lighting
- Ensured the health and safety of patrons by installing disinfecting lights in the auditorium
- Installed a rooftop satellite receiver for digital delivery of movies, ensuring the audience has the highest quality entertainment experience
- Purchased new concession equipment (popcorn machine, ice maker, beverage coolers, etc.)
Our next goal- new auditorium seating!!!