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Angola Strand Theatre closes its doors after 102 years

September 9th, 2016

By Mike Marturello | Indiana Economic Digest 

ANGOLA — Strand Theatre owner Dana Thompson had been telling patrons that once his run with the current “Star Trek” movie ended, so would the theater that has entertained people in downtown Angola for some 102 years.

Some thought it was Thompson just telling tall tales, for which he had a knack. On numerous occasions in recent years Thompson told patrons the movie theater would be closing soon.

This time he meant it.

“From the staff of the STRAND THEATRE, we would like to thank you for your patronage over the years. Today is the last day that we are open for business, September 4, 2016. Thank you,” said a message on the Fans of the Strand page on Facebook.

As he told patrons who spoke with The Herald Republican, the push by the movie industry to convert all films to digital finally caught up with the Strand, which was still showing movies on film. The cost of converting to digital equipment has been prohibitive for many small town movie houses, forcing several to close their doors.

In 2014, when the city of Angola tried to land a Stellar Communities grant that would have showered some $15 million on city government, one of the projects mentioned at the time was paying for digital equipment for the Strand and the Brokaw, prior to its conversion to digital. The intent was to prolong the life of the theaters.

A fan of the theater who grew up going to the Strand was Kim Shoup, who serves as counsel to the city of Angola.

“Dana could be found in the evening outside the theater talking with customers and passers by. He was a friend to many disaffected denizens of the night; a favorite with dogs being walked who always received a milk bone; and a colorful character to children who enjoyed his wholesome movie fare,” Shoup said in a letter to the editor.

Angola resident Eric Anthony, who has experience in media, said his first movie experience was at the Strand.

“I saw my very first movie at the Strand, “Superman” (1) staring Christopher Reeve,” Anthony said.

Changes in technology caught up with the Strand, Anthony said.

“This is a society of iMax, 3-D and digital so, really, there is little choice but to either spend the money to give people that experience or pack up,” Anthony said. “With the Brokaw doing such extensive modernization to give people the movie experience they expect in 2016, the Strand really had no choice but to decide to keep up and spend a fortune, or call it a day, as people would be choosing the more modern theater for the blockbuster movies.”

Anthony was referencing the monumental restoration done to the Brokaw Movie House, which has two screens, full digital and many amenities, like food service and limited adult beverages. The Brokaw was closed for more than a year for its restoration, which cost more than $1 million.

Posters on Facebook hope the owners of The Brokaw, Scott and Melissa Glaze, would do the same for the Strand.

When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, Scott Glaze said he did not know the Strand had closed, though he had heard rumors it might.

“I haven’t really had time to process this,” he said.

Glaze’s team is concentrating its efforts on The Brokaw, which opened this winter. Glaze had the opportunity to buy the Strand but the Brokaw presented itself as a better opportunity with two screens and an available adjacent building for expansion. Also, it had more interesting architecture, in the art deco style.

“There’s really no plans for (buying the Strand) at this time. Who knows that the future will bring,” he said.

Glaze is interested in seeing businesses on the Public Square prosper and hopes someone will take over the Strand. In the meantime, his team is busy solidifying business at The Brokaw.

“To tell you the truth, we have our hands full,” he said.

For sentimental reasons, Anthony wished there would have been some prior notice of the closing so folks could see the old theater a final time.

“A little advance notice of its closing would have been nice for people who wanted to see the theater one last time and maybe take some pictures of it,” he said.

©Copyright 2016 KPC Media Group, Inc.

Categories Layoffs / Closures