The Strand Theatre was officially constructed in 1925. The theatre was founded as a result of the Saenger company’s desire to compete in the booming film industry. While the Strand’s original motivations for being created have evolved over time, switching from an emphasis on film to an emphasis on performing arts, the theatre has maintained a good rapport with the people of Shreveport, Louisiana.
The Strand Theatre was constructed in 1925.1 The theatre was founded as a result of the Saenger company’s desire to compete in the booming film industry.2 While the Strand’s original motivations for being created have evolved over time, switching from an emphasis on film to an emphasis on performing arts, the theatre has maintained a good rapport with the people of Shreveport, Louisiana.
The land for the Strand Theatre was bought in 1919 by the Saenger Company and the Ehrlich Brothers.3 The Ehrlich Brothers had previously built Shreveport’s Grand Opera House in 1888.4 The plans for the theatre’s construction were signed on September 17, 1923.5 The building was constructed by Emile Weil, who also constructed the Strand Theatre located in New Orleans, Louisiana.6 From the start, the theatre was set up to succeed. Since film was an emerging, popular industry, and the Saenger Company had already built Shreveport’s Grand Opera House, there was an air of security regarding the theatre’s success.7 Almost as soon as the theatre’s construction finished, it aired its first shows. The theatre was founded on competing in the film industry, and the first show that the Strand Theatre held was a comic opera.8
Over the next few decades, the Saenger company altered the appearance of the Strand Theatre, since business had been declining.9 The big chandelier that once adorned the auditorium was removed and the panels that dressed the exterior were changed.10 Since movies were just starting and were new, people at the time felt more compelled to go cinemas. ABC Interstates Theatres bought out the Strand Theatre in 1970.11 The motives for ABC Interstate Theatres buying the Strand are not known. The Strand faced closure at the time of the purchase. ABC Interstate was most likely trying to save the once thriving company so that it might be able to make profit off it. Whatever the case, ABC’s efforts were not sufficient enough to keep the theatre alive. In 1977, ABC Interstate Theatres donated the Strand Theatre to Strand Theatre Company, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring the Strand Theatre.12 The company was started by Jim Montgomery, a local philanthropist.13 He helped to pay for the restoration of the Strand and bring it to its original glory.14
After acquiring the Strand, the nonprofit got busy. Though the company wanted to restore the theatre, its goal as a whole was to make the theatre into a performing arts center.15 The company felt that with such a grand space to fill an audience, the theatre would be put to better use if it reverted back to its roots. The Strand Theatre Company installed a new chandelier in the auditorium and even replaced the design of the exterior.16 The only downside to the restoration was that it reduced the amount of people that the auditorium could hold. The original maximum capacity was 2,250 people, but with all of the alterations made, the auditorium now only holds 1,636 people.17
The Strand Theatre is still open to this day, but has not received any recent renovations. All of the shows that are performed at the theatre are now performing arts shows.