The Strand Theatre in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, originally opened on November 11, 1918, the same day that the news of the Armistice, ending World War I, reached Boston. It was designed by the Boston-based architectural firm of Funk & Wilcox, the same firm that designed the nearby Franklin Park Theatre and the Cabot Theatre in Beverly, MA. It was one of the first theaters in Massachusetts designed with motion pictures in mind. The Strand also had a $75,000 Hope-Jones Theatre Organ, one of the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
Early advertisements for the Strand called it “New England’s Most Beautiful Theatre” and “Dorchester’s New Million Dollar Photoplay Palace.” The 2,200 seat Strand opened with a silent film double feature of “Queen of the Sea” starring Annette Kellerman and “Out of a Clear Sky” starring Marguerite Clark. There was also a performance from “Songstress DeLuxe” Emile Earle. Hundreds of people showed up to the Strand’s opening celebration in part to celebrate the theater but also the signing of the armistice. Many celebrities performed at the Strand over the years, including; Fred Allen, Fanny Brice, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Duke Ellington, and Alfred Hitchcock.
Like many single-screen theaters of its day, the Strand’s audience began to decline, and the theater closed in 1969. In 1979, the City of Boston took ownership of the theater, and the Strand reopened. It was managed by the M. Harriet McCormack Center for the Arts (MHMCA), who signed a 25-year lease for $1 a year. During this time, some big names performed at the theater – Joe Perry, BB King, Tracey Chapman, Public Enemy, Phish, and LL Cool J, just to name a few. MHMCA operated the theater until 2003 when the City declined to renew their lease due to allegations of mismanagement.
The City of Boston is currently searching for a new operator of the Strand, and the deadline for submitting proposals is Dec. 23, 2021. In addition, the Strand is presently the host of a traveling digital Vincent van Gogh exhibit until Feb 2022.