Students in the Spotlight
THE JOURNEY OF THE STRAND THEATER
The Kutztown Community Partnership is excited to announce we have received $450,000 from The Local Shares Account-Statewide program for the rehabilitation of the Kutztown Strand Theatre, which we purchased in February of this year. We thank Senator Judy Schwank (D-11) for her support of our initiative.
The grant supports the KCP’s goal of repairing and renovating the historic Strand building and is one of 20 issued within Senator Schwank’s district.
KCP intends to continue the Strand as a movie theatre and to expand the facility to a shared community space for performing arts, local events, and educational and community programs.
Previously, the KCP received a $270,013 grant through the American Rescue Plan.
Kutztown Community Partnership encourages anyone interested in following the Strand's journey to visit our website at https://www.kutztownpartnership.org
The Kutztown Strand Theater:
A Storied Past and Novel Future
Welcome to the official timeline of the Strand Theater's history. As an integral feature of Kutztown's community, the Strand has a colorful and storied history. Read and click through the slideshows below to learn about the lifetime of the Strand Theater and its impact on the people of Kutztown. Explore its origins, discover its owners, and find out interesting facts about Kutztown's local film history.
The two featured timelines follow the journey of the Strand Theater from its creation in 1908 up until the current year of 2023. The first slideshow details the inception and creation of the Strand under the ownership of Paul Herman, the theater's very first owner. The next timeline follows Larry Fenstermacher's and Paul Angstadt's respective ownership and management of the Strand Theater from 1945 until the present day.
The end of the final slideshow updates readers on Kutztown Community Partnership's current involvement with the Strand Theater. It is KCP's intention to restore the Strand as an operating movie theater for Kutztown community members and beyond. The Theater will also be expanded into a shared space for performing arts shows, local events, and education/community programs for the Kutztown area.
In tandem with Kutztown University, Kutztown Community Partnership created the following timelines for interested community members to peruse. The information and imaging included in the slideshows are credited to Kutztown University's Dr. Amy O'Brien and her undergraduate students. Click through below and get to know the Strand today!
THE PAUL HERMAN ERA
As both a film enthusiast and local to Kutztown, Paul Herman saw a future for community entertainment back in 1908 when he opened his two-reel theater, Herman’s Playhouse. With a loan from his father, Herman was able to open up the theater and operate it alongside his brother, Quinn Herman. The community support of the theater was unmatched, and a staple of Kutztown’s history was officially born. In addition to working with his father and brother at the theater, Herman lived with his wife, Lillie Mae Yoder, and their children in the house adjacent to the theater’s Whiteoak St. location. Click through below to learn about the ins and outs of Herman’s ownership of the Strand!
THE HISTORY OF THE STRAND:
THE HERMAN ERA
The Strand originates as the Kinetoscope Arcade located at 272 West Main St., currently the site of The Kutztown Tavern.
Paul Herman operates the arcade. Herman is a well-known figure in Kutztown. As a 34-year mail carrier for the United States Postal Service, he is also involved with the Trinity Lutheran Church and the Kutztown Fire Company.
Image: A kinetoscope from the early 20th century.
THE LARRY FENSTERMACHER AND PAUL ANGSTADT ERAS
Larry Fenstermacher was a close, long-time associate of Paul Herman throughout the years he ran Herman's Playhouse. After many dedicated years working with Herman, Fenstermacher first leased and then bought the theater in 1945, making him the second official owner of the Strand Theater. Larry Fenstermacher successfully carried on the legacy of the Strand Theater as a principal part of the community for 32 years, when the theater was bought by Paul Angstadt. Paul Angstadt is the late owner of the Strand Theater, having served as the Reading Mayor and as a state representative in addition to owning the theater throughout his life. Click through the slideshow below to discover more about these local figures of Kutztown's history.
THE HISTORY OF THE STRAND:
THE FENSTERMACHER AND ANGSTADT ERAS
Image: Fenstermacher’s planning of the renovation from an issue of the Kutztown Patriot in 1946.
Larry Fenstermacher purchases The Strand from Paul Herman in 1946, enlisting family members to operate the theater. The Fenstermacher family lives in the building’s upstairs apartment until the early 1950s as they run the theater below.
The Strand runs two showings per night—the first at 7 and the second at 9 p.m. The same two movies run Wednesday and Thursday, then the shows switch to two new movies on Friday and Saturday and switch again for Sunday. The theater is closed Monday and Tuesday. Films arrive every two days at the Bottling Works truck stop. Movies cost 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids and include a 10% defense tax for war efforts.
From May 4 to August 31, 1946, The Strand is closed for renovations. When the theater reopens on September 1, audiences are welcomed by an enlarged auditorium, a bigger lobby, and an expanded upstairs balcony. The theater’s capacity increases to 500 people. Notably, the iconic Strand marquee adds considerable curb appeal to the structure.
STRAND THEATER HISTORY BLOG
Welcome to the Strand Theater's official blog! With the help of Dr. Amy O'Brien and her Kutztown University undergraduate students, Kutztown Community Partnership is proud to present a series of blog posts on the lifetime of the theater. Blog updates will be posted on a weekly basis, so be sure to check back in to discover more about this beloved community pillar.
Click through the gallery posts below, beginning with the article, "Why Saving Historic Buildings is Key to Maintaining Culture and Community." Read about the impact and significance of the Strand Theater as a memento of Kutztown's success and history and follow along as we discuss KCP's mission to give new meaning to one of Kutztown's oldest establishments. Happy reading, check back often, and feel free to leave comments on what you would like to see next from this blog!