Strand Theater

The Strand in 1937, photographer unknown. [Image: UM Libraries NAA]

16 East Superior Street | Architects: Unknown | Built: 1916 | Lost: 1998

Nicholas Hewitt built a meat market at 16 East Superior Street in 1906, a simple brick-faced structure with some ornamental brickwork, but otherwise unadorned. Hewitt moved out in 1909, after which the building served as the home of several restaurants including the St. Paul, operated by Y. F. Huie, a relative of famed Duluth restaurateur Joe Huie. In 1916—a year after the Empress burned next door—the Clinton Investment Company converted the building into a movie house that contest-winner Alice Lee named the Strand.

The Strand’s lobby in 1937, photographer unknown. [Image: UM Libraries NAA]

Its auditorium and balcony together sat six hundred patrons, and amenities included a pipe organ and a maid in attendance; the balcony was reserved for “women, children, and their escorts”; the theater also had a nursery “supervised by a trained attendant.” The Duluth News Tribune gushed over the “beauty and charm of the marble vases, the bas-relief figures in cameo, Pompeiian and bronze finish” and a mural depicting “Italian scenery.” In 1935 Minneapolis theater architects Liebenberg & Kaplan renovated the theater in an Art Deco motif, as seen in the photos below. The movie house operated until 1953, after which it sat vacant.

The Strand’s auditorium in 1937, photographer unknown. [Image: UM Libraries NAA]

In 1970 Harry Mohney purchased the building and announced he would convert it into a 280-seat “luxury movie house” he planned to call the Cinema. Instead, Q. A. Cooke and his associates bought the building from Mohney and renovated it into a 380-seat “adult” theater exclusively showing R- and X-rated films. It opened in August 1971 offering Sinderalla and the Golden Bra. Ferris Alexander, who owned several adult book stores along Superior Street, later purchased the building, operating it until 1985. Plans to reopen it as a burlesque theater never emerged. It was demolished in 1998.