2007-04-06 / Community

Strand Theatre Becomes Warehouse

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

Taken in 2005, this photo shows the graffiti that, that until recently marred the gates of the theatre. The Strand sign hung on the right side of the building until shortly before the photo was taken. Taken in 2005, this photo shows the graffiti that, that until recently marred the gates of the theatre. The Strand sign hung on the right side of the building until shortly before the photo was taken. The building that once housed the Strand Theatre, where longtime residents spent hours of their youth, and later time with their families, is now a warehouse for the Brunswick Paper Company. Located at 714 Beach 20 Street in Far Rockaway, the venerable old theatre had been sitting empty for decades until renovations were begun by Brunswick in 2005.

"It's a big open space, so, for a warehouse it works well," Barry Knobel of Unlimited Export, Inc, the buildings owner told The Wave back in 2005. "It's a real nice industrial building." Knobel added that he was happy to be rehabilitating the once glorious building that had become "an eyesore."

For many, what had become an eyesore in recent years held fond memories of happier days gone by when you could see a double feature, two cartoons and a serial thriller, all for twenty five cents. While the graffiti painted gates are now gone, so is the grand interior that was the Strand - the orange and brown tiles of the lobby's floor; the fireplace that adorned an area close to the restrooms; the narrow steps that led to the projection room and the wall openings for the projector from which numerous films - such as the academy award winner "The Robe" (1953) - were projected onto the silver screen.

The front of the building is still undergoing refurbishing. The front of the building is still undergoing refurbishing. The most notable and noticeable missing piece is the huge Strand sign that hung on the building's exterior. It reminded those who passed by of another time when multiplexes were yet unimagined. The sign was removed shortly before the renovation began.

In September, this newspaper reported that the area's first year-round indoor flea market would be taking up residence there, but in January, it was announced that the deal fell through.

The Strand, a 1,730-seat single screen theater, opened in 1919 as a vaudeville house. In the 1920's the place played host to such legends as Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker. It closed in the 1967, but, for a time, reopened during the summer months to show Disney movies. The Strand was one of three movie theaters in Far Rockaway located just blocks apart from one another. The others were the Columbia, and the last to close - the Pix.

As a truck parks in Brunswick's back lot, products in the warehouse can be seen through the open gate. As a truck parks in Brunswick's back lot, products in the warehouse can be seen through the open gate. This is not the first time there were planned renovations for the old movie house. In its January 15, 2000 issue, The Wave reported that the site would become home to a new medical center. At that time The Wave wrote "[It] would have been nice if it was another theatre, but we'll take an occupied building over a vacant building anytime."

While not seeing the old theatre become a flea market may be good news to those who spent many enjoyable hours in the Strand, seeing it become a warehouse may not be what many would have envisioned for the building either.

Yet, perhaps those who remember The Strand now feel about the new warehouse as The Wave did in 2000 about the promised, but never built medical center. Then again, maybe not.

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