The Strand Theater shines downtown as movie return year round

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Strand Theater is once again becoming part of the fabric of the community.

The theater opened in 1934 and closed its doors in 1966 with a showing of “The Great Race,” starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood.

Periodically, the theater would host a film or stage production, but lacked the luster of years gone by.

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Then something magical started in 2011. The Strand Theater was restored to its former glory. Westside Theater Foundation moved into the building and made it home to its productions.

The Strand began regular showings of foreign and arts films, but only when the weather was cool. The old building lacked air conditioning.

A series of fundraising screenings brought in enough money so that an HVAC system could be installed.

Then, just like the MGM lion’s roar at the beginning of a movie, the Strand fully awoke. This summer the Strand has hosted many screenings.

Daniel Boone, who has been showing films at the theater for four years said now that the building has heating and air conditioning, the programming can continue year-round.

“For three years running we only could do any programming in the spring and the fall because as you can imagine, this place got too hot and too cold,” he said. “For three years we did a few weeks in the spring and a few weeks in the fall, and last year in 2014 one of our supporters said, ‘you’ve got to do something about this; I want more entertainment.’”

Boone said that supporter gave them money to use as a seed to begin collecting donations to purchase a heating and air system.

“We found some people who allowed the two of us (Daniel Boone and Jack Burns) to do most of the installation of the system under professional guidance,” he said. “We were able to do much of the labor.”

The group was able to raise $13,000 from the community and with that they were able to do what would have been a $50,000 air conditioner installation, Boone said.

Seeing a movie at the Strand is what moviemakers imagined during the golden era of Hollywood.

The Strand has reestablished itself as a vital piece to downtown Vicksburg and makes movie going an memorable event.