119 NORTH MAIN STREET, ZELIENOPLE, PA 16063      724.742.0400      CLICK TO EMAIL
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HISTORY OF THE STRAND THEATER

The Strand Theater was constructed and managed by Gioachino and Rosalia Sapienza in 1914.  Gioachino and Rosalia were Italian immigrants seeking a new life and new opportunity in America and Zelienople.  In order to blend in with their adopted community, they became known to friends and neighbors as Joseph and Rosalie.  Joseph originally wanted to build a fruit market, but the local banker convinced him that the town really needed a theater.  So two-thirds of the structure was dedicated to The Strand, and the remaining third was Sapienza's Fruit Market.  The Strand featured silent films with live piano accompaniment as well as Vaudeville-style shows on its small stage.

In 1939, The Strand underwent its first major renovation and the structure was dedicated entirely to the theater, albeit with a nearly exclusive focus on the motion picture medium.  Joseph moved his fruit market across the street into what is now 'The Silversmith Shoppe' and a tax preparation office.  But the 'Sapienza' name is still emblazoned across the top of the building's facade. 

The Strand thrived as a social center for Zelienople and Harmony for decades, providing a destination for families to escape the drudgery and routine of rural life and to meet and enjoy a night's entertainment. But The Strand began to struggle when multiplex cinemas began dotting the suburban landscape.  The theater became more of a drop-off point for parents to leave their kids for an afternoon matinee.

But with increased pressure from the onset of the Multi-Plex and VCR era, The Strand could no longer compete. One night In the early 1980's, The Strand closed its doors and they have not been open to the public since..................................until now.

There have been a variety of suitors for The Strand over the years. Developers and private investors considered making use of the building for everything from a mini-mall to a dance school to a dinner theater. As recently as Fall, 2000, the FBI considered The Strand for use as a field office. However, the extensive cost of buying and renovating the building has kept potential developers away.

ABOUT THE STRAND THEATER INITIATIVE

The Strand Theater Initiative was created in 2001 as a non-profit corporation to save the venerable old theater from the wrecking ball, with the goal of reviving The Strand as a cultural, education and community outreach center.  Through private and public financial support, The Initiative purchased The Strand in 2002 and completed an exterior renovation in January, 2005. 

The Initiative has raised over $2 million toward itís capital campaign and major renovations to the theaterís decayed interior have been ongoing since July, 2007.  The first phase of construction is now complete and we hope that you are pleased with the result:  a versatile structure, capable of presenting classic and independent films, as well as a variety of live programs. After nearly 25 years of decay and neglect, The Strand once again welcomes the public through its doors.

More help is needed, however, in order to move on to the next phase of construction; the creation of a state-of-the-art facility, capable of presenting full-scale, theatrical productions in the North Pittsburgh region. We seek civic-minded individuals, corporations and philanthropists, willing to help us with donations and networking.  Additional foundation and other funds are under consideration. With your contributions, you demonstrate to these groups that The Strand enjoys the continued support of the communities that it serves.  Please contact us to get involved.  We offer a variety of tax-deductible corporate sponsorships and individual patronage geared to fit any budget.  Customized honorariums are also available.

We welcome you to the all-new Strand and wish you a very pleasant experience!

 
Last Update: 04/21/17

 

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