On October 5, 2013, the BRIC Arts Media House became the latest addition to the burgeoning Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District. Based in the remains of the former Strand Theatre, BRIC is a “multidisciplinary arts and media non-profit dedicated to presenting visual, performing, and media arts programs.” The publicity surrounding its opening often included a fabricated history of the Strand describing it as a former variety house where Charlie Chaplin and Harry Houdini once performed. Why this was necessary is unclear.
Originally operated by the Mitchel H. Mark Realty Company, the Strand opened August 30, 1919 as a movie house designed by noted theatre architect Thomas Lamb (Job Book #1390).
The New York Clipper, September 3, 1919:
“The design throughout the new theatre is Pompeian block, gold, bronze and green are the predominating colors. The marble lobby and stairway were banked with roses, cut flowers and potted plants Friday night, the gifts of the management’s many friends.”
The Brooklyn Eagle, August 10, 1919:
“The policy of the Brooklyn Strand, like the Stand in Manhattan, will be a continuous performance daily from noon to 11:30pm, presenting a varied program of classical and popular music and photo-dramas.”
The opening musical program featured Grace Hoffman (coloratura soprano), H.C. Smith & Frank S. Adams alternating in playing the Coronation March on the pipe organ, and excerpts from La Boheme by the house orchestra, followed by the screen presentation.
New York Clipper, August 27, 1919:
“The latest Goldwyn production, with Geraldine Farrar, ‘The World and Its Women,’ will be the feature. In addition the program will include Travel Scenics, Education Studies, Topical Revue, Topics of the Day and a new comedy.”
The Strand deserves recognition as a movie palace and does not need a fabricated past to celebrate its history.
Photograph, BRIC Arts Media, November 2013, copyright Betty Sword, all rights reserved.
Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the year by the Theatre Historical Society.
He is available for theatre talks and walks in 2014.
Original content © Cezar Del Valle and Betty Sword (photographs) 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cezar Del Valle, Betty Sword (photographs) and/or Theatre Talks with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.