Strand Theater

1318 Park Street,
Alameda, CA 94501

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm

The Strand’s footprint is now part of the site of the Alameda Fire Department headquarters building. In the current Google Street view you can see a fire engine parked just about where the Strand’s 7-piece orchestra and the console of its Wurlitzer organ would probably have been.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2018 at 8:29 pm

I just realized that the house opening on April 15, 1918, means that tomorrow would have been the Hamblen Theatre’s 100th anniversary.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2018 at 1:52 pm

This article about the Hamblen Theatre appeared in The Moving Picture World of May 11, 1918:

“SAN FRANCISCO. — The new Hamblen theater, Park street and Encinal avenue, Alameda, was opened on the evening of April 15. This theater was constructed and will be operated by James Hamblen, formerly of Kansas City, Mo. As this is the first venture in the amusement field he has secured the services as manager of E. V. Clover, for several years connected with the Turner & Dahnken Circuit, and the opening of the house was conducted under the management of the latter.

“This new theater is of substantial brick construction, with a facade of plaster, relieved by a trimming of light-colored brick. It has a seating capacity of 1,500, this being divided about equally between the lower floor and the balcony. The office is on the lower floor, directly off the main entrance, and near the broad stairway leading to the balcony. At the other side of the theater is another stairway, but this leads directly to the street and is designed to be used as an exit. Off the foyer is a small rest room for women, a telephone booth and drinking fountains. The foyer, aisles and stairs are carpeted throughout.

“The entire mezzanine floor is given over to a ladies' rest room and a nursery where there is a maid in attendance. These rooms are very attractively furnished and show much thought on the part of the designer. Here are drinking fountains and free local telephones. The decorations here and throughout the house are of a quiet, but very effective order.

“The theater is equipped with a full stage and it is the plan to present vaudeville attractions each Sunday. The ventilating system is a feature of the house, the air being changed throughout once every twelve minutes. Music is rendered by a seven-piece orchestra, under the direction of Max Amsterdam, of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and a large Wurlitzer Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra presided over by Miss Irma Falvey. The projection equipment includes two late model Simplex machines installed by the Breck Photo Play Supply Company.

“The opening program included an address by Green Majors, mayor of Alameda, musical numbers by a soldier, a Fairbanks feature "Headin' South.” a Sunshine comedy, a Burton Holmes Travelogue and a Pathe News. The prices of admission are 15 cents for the lower floor and 10 cents for the balcony, with reserved loge seats at 25 cents. At matinees all seats are 10 cents. These prices include the war tax.“

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 14, 2017 at 8:47 pm

The December, 1917, issue of The Architect & Engineer had this item about a theater project in Alameda which was most likely the Strand:

“Alameda Theatre

“Mr. George F. King, Berkeley architect, has prepared plans for a Class ‘C’ theatre of 1500 persons capacity for Mr. James Hamblen. Construction has already started, the site being on Park street, near Encinal avenue. The building is to cost $75,000.”

William on August 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Over the years seating capacities can change to go with local union contracts. In the past in the Los Angeles area projectionist contracts had a provision dealing with theatres seating over 1000 people. Theatres over seating over 1000 people had tobe manned by two projectionists a shift. To get under that clause in the contract the theatre owner or chain removed seats to get under 1000 seats.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 26, 2006 at 2:10 am

Original announcements of new theatres sometimes exaggerated the seating capacity a bit, and sometimes the plans were altered between the time of the announcement and the actual beginning of construction, and the capacity would end up a bit larger or smaller than originally announced.

It was also fairly common for a theatre to be reseated during its lifetime, most often by installing wider seats, sometimes by more extensive alterations that increased leg room by reducing the number of rows, and either of these would thus reduce the seating capacity. There were also some occasions when seating capacities of a theatre went up. This happened most often when a theatre originally built with an orchestra pit would have the pit covered over and a couple of rows of seats added in the new floor space.

gsmurph on March 26, 2006 at 1:23 am

So, what was the Strand’s seating capacity—-1500 as stated by Joe Vogel, or 1400 according to the “Seats” listing above? Just wondering…

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 3, 2005 at 1:45 am

This must be the theatre referred to in the December, 1917 issue of Architect & Engineer, which announced the erection of a “Class C theater to seat 1500 persons for Mr. James Hamblen; on Park street near Encinal Ave”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 3, 2005 at 1:12 am

Motion Picture Herald issue of May 30, 1936, contained an item in its “Better Theatres” section announcing that Nasser Brothers intended to remodel the Strand, with plans by architect F.F. Amandes. If it re-opened little more than a month later, on July 10th of that year, the remodeling must not have been extensive.

gsmurph on June 24, 2005 at 8:06 am

The Strand’s original name was the Hamblen; it became the Strand on December 31, 1918. When the Nasser Brothers opened the (current) Alameda Theatre on August 16, 1932, they closed the Strand, which remained closed until July 10, 1936. This, coupled with the closure mentioned in the previous post, indicates that the Strand had a rather checkered off-on existence.

gsmurph on June 16, 2005 at 8:32 am

The Strand opened April 15, 1918. Closed for a time, it reopened on August 11, 1942; it closed for good in 1948.

seabeee5 on November 10, 2004 at 8:51 pm

1955 when going to alameda high school a bunch of us kids knew how to get inside the old strand theater, it still had the old piano located in the front of the theater the piano was used beacause there no sound with the picturesin those early days, there was movie film all over the floor area. there was still film inside the film cans, all of the curtains were sill hanging up. all in all the place was not in bad shape. every now and then i wonder what what the movies were inside those canisters thanks leon

gsmurph on June 18, 2004 at 2:51 am

The Strand’s address was 1318 Park Street.