BY: EVAN SANTOS
We spoke about Herman’s Playhouse in the last blog. We know that it was used for more than just the early films of the 1900s and we will dive deeper into that in a future blog. It was 1927 when the Playhouse became the Strand as we know it today and the building became more exclusive to movies. Another change took place in the 1930s: ownership. Paul Herman knew his young employee Larry Fenstermacher would keep the theater thriving for years, and that is exactly what he did. In 1934, Fenstermacher purchased 4 shares of stock in Superior Amusement Corp which was officially etched into the rich history of the theater.
It wasn’t until the mid-40s that Larry officially took over as owner. Once he did, he ran a family business that included his son Dennis, his wife Dorothy, and even his own father. Everyone played a role in the operation and the theater was successful for 25 years under Larry’s leadership. The movie operations went just as you would probably expect. Larry’s wife and sister sold the tickets, and his son Dennis cleaned the theater along with help from Larry and Larry’s father. As for Larry, he was front and center as the ticket taker. He would arrive promptly at 6
o’clock in his suit to welcome theatergoers into the theater still only a few decades into its now 111-year existence.
Under Fenstermaker, there were 2 films a night. The same films were shown Wednesday and Thursday, they then switched on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday had its own set of films as well. The theater was closed Mondays and Tuesdays. On Tuesdays, Larry would head down to the Kutztown Bottling Works on South Whiteoak, a walk across Main Street from the Strand, which served as the truck stop of the town, to pick up the new films for the upcoming week. It was Larry's routine for many years until his death at the young age of 67 in 1980.
When Larry was ready to pass the theater on, he knew he had to leave it in good hands. The theater had quickly become a cornerstone of the town. He needed someone to keep its legacy strong. In steps Paul Angstadt, who we’ll discuss in the next blog, from his takeover in 1969 to his work over the last 50+ years leading us to where we stand today