Strand Theatre

510 W. Wisconsin Avenue,
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 16 comments

LorinWeigard on April 24, 2019 at 6:53 am

Great memories of the Strand April 14 with the 60th Anniversary presentation of “Ben-Hur”. Still a memorable,tasteful film with the never to be forgotten chariot race. Bittersweet is seeing at a multi-plex, and although Fathomevents showed it complete with overture, entracte, it was pale when compared to seeing it for the first time at the Strand on that huge screen.

dallasmovietheaters on January 10, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Wolff & Ewens were the architects of the original structure.

DavidZornig on February 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Photos of the Esquire, Strand & Wisconsin Theatres in below 2/11/16 link.

gtmokeith on March 28, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Lots of times, but mostly just parts of it in between other usher duties. The best thing was seeing the film from the heat of the projection booth.

gtmokeith on March 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Imagine Sound of Music being 50 years old. I got a job at the Strand for after school and weekends as an usher when that movie opened. There were about 6 of us or so, each with a powder blue tux from Sherkow’s up the street. We had reserved seating there then. Do you have any idea how many times I have seen Sound? Then, The Bible came and that was a neat experience too. It was a nice theater but not as nice as The Warner or The Wisconsin down the street.

LorinWeigard on March 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Coate—Many thanks for the commentary on The Sound of Music and your link to the 50th Anniversary Retrospective. What a resource that is for us 70mm roadshow geeks. 97 weeks at the Strand might be the record—If memory serves, SOM ran 67 weeks as a reserved seat show here in Harrisburg, left, and came back for another 27 or so as a general release. For Sound of Music fans, Fathomevents is going to run the Turner Classics resortation in select theatres April 19 and 22 for those of us who can’t get enough of this movie. ( I’ve seen SOM easily 35 times, from a reserved seat or the projection room or on the TV; I plan to be there for this showing if for no other reason than to see the most iconic opening of a movie musical on the big screen the way it was meant to be seen! Many thanks again for the comments and links!

Coate on March 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

It was 50 years ago today that “The Sound of Music” premiered at the Strand. With a reserved-seat run of 97 weeks, it’s almost certainly the long-run record holder for this venue. (Anyone know of something that ran longer?)

Also, on a related note, I would like to mention my new 50th anniversary retrospective for “The Sound of Music” can be read here. It includes a film historian Q&A and a list of the film’s roadshow engagements. I hope fans of the movie and/or theater buffs enjoy the article.

LorinWeigard on September 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Having viewed “Ben-Hur” again on DVD over the holiday, I felt the need to post my one and only experience with the wonderful Strand, in which I saw this epic for the first time. Our family was in Milwaukee for my dad’s insurance company convention; my mom wanted no part of a movie and prefered to shop, and so I headed off to a movie. My first stop was at the theatre that would run “Can-Can”. As luck would have it, they were still installing the Todd-AO screen at that point, so it came down to “Ben-Hur” at the Strand. I’ve never seen “Ben-Hur” again without recalling the vivid memories of seeing it for the first time on that huge screen at the Strand. It’s not only the huge scale of that epic movie that comes to mind—it was the gorgeous Strand Theatre that was part of it. I remember a unbelivably wide curtain that had this outward bow at the center before it parted for that Camera 65 image. I also remember this matinee being a reserved seat engagement, and a notice at the auditorium doors stating, “No one seated during the first 5 minutes”. Well, I’m 9 years old now and don’t know what to make of this; I know this is a religious picture, so does this mean we kneel or stand or WHAT??? (For all countrykids lost in the big city, it means: come late and stand until the opening credits!) What can I say— the entire experience was unforgettable, not just the centerpiece scene of the chariot race—but the entire picture was the new standard of “epic” filmmaking, and one of the reasons I majored in Cinema Studies years later. As an additional ancedote, I should add, my best friend, whose father was also an insurance agent and in Milwaukee with his family for the same convention as my dad, were at the same showing of “Ben-Hur”, as we would discover years after the fact! They don’t make epics like “Ben-Hur” anymore or build movie palaces like the Strand either!

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 22, 2013 at 6:25 am

Tinseltoes, that would be off topic, but since you ask, but when you ask a sailor, it could end up a long sea story!

Navy folks have always know what those initials meant and all others as my mother used to say to me “that’s to make little boys ask questions”. I joined the United States Navy in 1962 and retired in 2002. I miss it, but I can’t say my wife does. I was always involved in aviation. You know the Navy has airplanes?

Watch for the capital letters.

Aviation storeKeeper Chief (Naval Air crewmaN) Command Career Counselor

The counselor part was to try and help sailors get promoted so they would stay in the Navy, easy to say, hard to do. For the aircrew, I was loadmaster and had way over 1000 hours flying in the C9B Skytrain II, the Navy version of Douglas/McDonnell Douglas DC9-33RC. Later MD-80, MD-90, Boeing 717. It had a big cargo door so it could be loaded with 7 Air Force pallets of cargo or it could carry 110 passengers. Chiefs are the highest enlisted rate in the Navy. “The Chiefs run the Navy!” Who would know more about the Navy, an officer just out of college or an old salty Chief who has been around forever? I would have been called Chief Jensen or more often just Chief, or if they were talking about me, The Chief.

I flew as far to the West as Okinawa and as far to the East as Spain and all over in between. Getting back to Cinema Treasures, I regret I didn’t pay more attention to the cinemas in my world travels. For example, when will I ever get a chance to again check out the movie theater at the now closed U.S. Naval Air Facility Midway Island out in the middle of Pacific Ocean and it would be nice to see those Gooney Birds again!

Old sailors never die, they just get a little dingy!

The Chief!

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on August 21, 2013 at 5:14 am

The original Wangerin Pipe Organ in the Strand was made by the Wangerin Organ Company, 112-124 South Burrell Street, Milwaukee, just a bit over 5 miles South from the theatre. They had another factory Southeast around the corner .2 miles at 117-121 South Austin Street and by World War II had a factory less than 2 miles North at 2330 South Burrell Street. Founded in 1895, they made over 1,000 mostly church organs. During the theater organ boom in the 1920’s the Barton Organ Company of Oshkosh Wisconsin could not keep up with production demand. Wangerin stepped in to assist Barton and provided space as a second manufacturing facility during those years. They made wood parts for aeroplanes during World War I and in World War II made things that had been made of metal so metal could be used for defense.

A Golden Voiced Barton Theater Pipe Organ, 2/6, manual/rank, keyboard/set of pipes, was shipped from the Barton Organ Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin or perhaps the Wangerin Organ Company in Milwaukee to the Strand, in 1926.

Anyone know what happened to either the Wangerin or Barton organs?

1chinatown on October 18, 2012 at 8:39 pm

It was 1959. I was in 7th grade, St. Aloysius in West Allis. The nuns took us to see “Ben Hur”. I will never forget when they opened the drapes ( remember those days). The screen was crimped on both ends as that was the only way it could be fitted. Yes, it was not a Cinerama production, but stunning just the same. It is a shame that this cannot be duplicated today. The chariot race was breathtaking.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on March 5, 2011 at 3:33 am

Newspaper ad for opening of Tol'able David in January 1922.

kucharsk on January 13, 2008 at 5:15 am

I have amazing memories of The Strand in the mid 1970s as, as a child, my parents took me there to show me what widescreen films were REALLY all about.

The Strand was doing a run of Todd-AO and 70 mm films, and as a result I got to see Sound of Music, South Pacific, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World the way they were MEANT to be seen.

The two memories I will never forget are seeing the pre-intermission montage of Mad World and the wedding scene of Sound of Music on THAT screen.

Those showings at The Strand were solely responsible for my life-long love of large widescreen film processes.

Those experiences simply can never be recreated except at one of the very, very few film palaces left.

kencmcintyre on August 10, 2006 at 2:56 pm

Here is a photo from the Milwaukee Public Library. The Strand is on the left side, and the Palace/Orpheum is on the right:

Hal on March 1, 2006 at 4:59 am

Back in the early 70’s, I was on loan from IATSE Local 251 in Madison to Local 164 in Milwaukee and worked at the Strand. It was equipped with a pair of Norelco AA11’s with Strong Carbon Arcs. By the time I got there it was pretty run down, running mostly junk film, we did run The Sound of Music in 70mm during one holiday season, a new print too! In it’s heyday it was THE roadshow house in Milwaukee, the 1st 70mm was Oklahoma and it ran virtually all the big ones after that. I saw Music there as a kid, fond memories indeed!

JimRankin on October 9, 2004 at 5:18 am

Please let me know if you learn anything more about this theatre.
Jim Rankin