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Good Times are Back
at the Strand Theater in Rockland, Maine
by Fran Folsom

The Strand has been a Rockland (Maine) Main Street landmark since it first
opened in February 1923 to a sellout crowd for the silent movie
My Wild Irish
.  The theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Built by
Joseph Dondis, the Strand was the first building to rise from the ashes of a
devastating downtown fire in 1922.

The Dondis family decided to make it into two
cinemas in the mid-1970’s,  covering the exterior
ornamental brick with aluminum siding,
and putting a second screen where the balcony
was.  The family closed the theater in 2001
and sold it to a multi-plex corporation
which never opened it.

Enter Matthew Simmons, a Texas businessman with a summer home in
Rockland.  Simmons purchased the theater, rescuing it from darkness, and
embarked on an eighteen month rehabilitation project that included the
installation of a state-of-the-art sound system, restoration of the outer brick,
the tin ceilings, the terra cotta wall tiles, and the 626 seats. The second screen
has been ripped out and the balcony is back.

Today the Strand takes on a new life running current flicks with foreign films,
documentaries, second run movies and classic’s such as It Happened One
Night, Casablanca and  North by Northwest.  

Knowing the theater’s history of many
generations munching buttered popcorn
from the concession stand while watching
a movie, Simmons made only a slight change;
two concession stands, a swanky one by
the balcony for martini’s and a neon lit
chrome one in the main lobby. The only
thing missing is the buttered popcorn,
it’s now made with wild sunflower oil.

But, they have Lake Champlain 5-Star chocolate bars and to-die-for brownies
from Rockland’s Atlantic Baking Company.

For anyone who wants to ‘make out’ in the balcony there’s a midnight movie
series.  The good times are back at the Strand Theater.

When You Go:
The Strand Theater        
Main St.       
Rockland, Maine 04841

Historic Inns of Rockland     1-877-762-4667  

About the author: Fran Folsom is a Cambridge based travel writer and guidebook
author.  One of Fran's favorite places to write about is northern New England.  Her
writing has appeared in Antiques & Fine Art, AAA Horizons, Encore, Boston Globe,
New Hampshire Telegraph, Maine Sunday Telegram, Boston Herald, New York Post
and many other publications.
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
Strand Theater, Rockland, Maine
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