We have always had a soft spot for old cinemas, standing in direct contrast to our feelings about surface parking lots. While we stan buildings with leftover architectural details, like (what’s left of) the Boyd or the Leader on Lancaster or the Diamond on Germantown Avenue, we’re also fond of the buildings that have little but a whisper that remains of their history, like the Jeffries in Manayunk or even the Roxy in Center City. A building that falls into the latter category is the former Strand Theater, located at the southwest corner of 12th & Girard.
The Strand was originally constructed in 1913, a couple decades before talkies appeared on the scene. It was a relatively small neighborhood cinema, topping out at 471 seats, per Cinema Treasures. The theater ceased operations in the late 1950s, and before the 1960s were out, an Apostolic Church took over the property. This congregation worshipped here for decades, finally selling out to a developer a couple years back for $415K. Looking at the listing that preceded this purchase, we see that the interior of the church seemingly included no original details from the building’s previous use. If not for the intact (if dilapidated looking) marquee, you wouldn’t know it was a theater, once upon a time.
That being said, maybe it’s for the best that the interior details of the old theater disappeared long ago, because the building is now being demolished. As we said, developers bought the building a few years back, and they tried to sell it over most of the last year before deciding to redevelop the property themselves. We see a permit on the property for the construction of a four-story building with an interesting plan for the interior. On the first two floors, look for a bi-level restaurant. On floors 3 and 4, the developers are planning visitor accommodations. We have to think that will be some kind of Airbnb situation, but we’re not sure. However the visitor accommodations will be managed, it’s a nice idea for a building that’s relatively close to Temple University. Also, it’ll look pretty cool, thanks to Parallel Architecture Studio.
While we’re here, it’s a nice time to check in on another project, just across the street.
You may recall, a Rite Aid stood across the street, covering the entire north side of the 1200 block of W. Girard. That building came down earlier this year, and construction started earlier this month on a new apartment building which will rise four stories and include over 160 units. Figure it’ll be done in about a year and a half, by which point it’ll have a nice new restaurant across the street.