Strand Timeline


Below is a more complete timeline of the Strand's history:

  • June 16, 1920—Great Rockland Fire levels 4 blocks on the eastern side of Main Street, providing for the future home of the Strand Theatre.
  • February 22, 1923—Washington's Birthday; Joseph Dondis opens the Strand Theatre for a showing of the silent film "My Wild Irish Rose," starring Pat O'Malley. Ticket price: 22¢. Two storefronts, a florist and candy shop, exist at the front of the theatre.
  • March 1923—$10,000 Robert-Morton organ installed. Patrons could leave musical scores for their favorite tunes at the box office and hear them played later by organist James O'Hara during the 10 to 15 minute organ recital that preceded each show. Ticket prices rose to 25¢.
  • May 23, 1927—DeForrest Phonofilm talking pictures featured at the Strand.
  • 1929—First "talkie" at the Strand: "Alias Jimmy Valentine."
  • 1940—Joseph Dondis dies. Ida assumes operation of the theatre.
  • 1940s—Movie business booms in Rockland with government encouraging the entertainment and recreation industries to keep home-front morale high. The occasional midnight movies are popular due to round-the-clock working shifts.
  • December 7, 1941—Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the Strand, manager Danny Dandeneau turns up the house lights, mounts the stage, and announces the attack and the message that all servicemen in the audience were to report to their bases immediately.
  • September 1942—Strand Theatre participates with war bond drives. Patrons pay the price of a bond instead of a ticket in order to be admitted to the feature premier. $170,000 raised.
  • 1944—Rockland suffers a labor shortage. In March, the Strand advertised for a "draft-exempt" projectionist.
  • May 1944—"WAC Recruiting Week" for women in Rockland. The Women's Army Corps presents a style show at the Strand with WAC models modeling WAC uniforms and a showing of the special feature film "See Here, Private Hargrove."
  • 1946—Store fronts removed from the Strand, lobby and concessions area expanded.
  • 1979/80—Strand is "twinned." The balcony is converted to a second cinema, and extensive remodeling is done. Name changed to Strand Cinema.
  • 1985—Meredith Dondis takes over operations of the Strand from his mother, Ida.
  • July 13, 2000—Meredith Dondis sells the Strand to Peter and Denise Vivian who keep the theatre in operation.
  • December 5, 2001—The Vivians sell the Strand to local multiplex owner who closes the theatre. Strand sits empty for 3 years.
  • January 2002—Attorney General's office begins antitrust violation investigation into local multiplex.
  • December 18, 2003—AG office files a complaint against Flagship Cinemas citing violation of Maine's antitrust laws.
  • February 5, 2004—Sale of the Strand to Matthew Simmons of Texas takes place.
  • February 12, 2004—Maine State Attorney General's office drops antitrust complaint against Flagship Cinemas.
  • March 1, 2004—Initial demolition begins for the Strand Theatre restoration project. Construction is estimated to take a year. Reopening projected for summer 2005.
  • May 29, 2005—A marquee unveiling is held for the new 1920s-replica marquee on the face of the theatre. Rockland Mayor Tom Malloy and former owner Meredith Dondis are on hand to help with the unveiling.
  • July 3, 2005—The Strand Theatre celebrates its Grand Reopening with a block party on Main Street, theatre tours and an evening screening of the silent film classic "The General" with Buster Keaton.
  • January, 2014—The Friends of the Strand Theatre was formed to own and operate the theater as a tax exempt non-profit organization.
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