103 N. Main Street,
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Previously operated by: Fox Theatres (Reading, PA)
Firms: Mann & Company
Previous Names: Martin Theatre, Deluxe Theatre
The Martin Theatre opened in 1913. It was renamed Deluxe Theatre by June 1914. In 1923 it was remodelled and the seating capacity was for 800 seats. After another remodel in 1929 by local architectural firm Mann & Company, which reduced the seating capacity to 550, Fox Midwest Theatres opened the Strand Theatre on April 21, 1930, in the former and renovated Deluxe Theatre. In June of 1930 the Hutchinson News noted that Fox now controlled all three of the local theatres, with the future Fox Theatre on the drawing boards.
In December of 1932 Ed Haas, manager of the Strand Theatre and Fox Theatre, was arrested and then posted bond over a violation of the Sunday closing law. Apparently this was a test case with Mr. Haas having the support of Fox West Coast Theatres, who paid a $200 fine. 400 local businessmen, who signed in favor of Sunday openings the previous January, also backed the theatre. Haas employees were also behind him. Amusingly enough, on one Sunday, after being arrested the staff would go to jail and post bail while another shift ran the theatre. When the first group returned, the other shift would go to jail, with all the free entertainment being watched by a large crowd of citizens on the street. The Hutchinson News reported on December 19, 1932, that after the third straight Sunday of movies the district court enjoined the city from arresting employees of the theatre. In January of 1933 the district court ruled that the Sunday closing law was “arbitrary, discriminatory and invalid".
Still a Fox Theatre, the Strand Theatre closed on July 5, 1960, with its waning days filled with 3rd run, horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films. One notable double bill in May was “Nude in a White Car” and “Woman Bait". Unlike 1932, the theatre management couldn’t even garner any free publicity by getting arrested for these gems.
Since 2008 the former Strand building has been home to Carl’s Bar with the Strand name still carved boldly in the top of the building.
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