Sebring Ohio Historical Society
|126 North 15th Street
Sebring, Ohio 44672
|The Strand Theatre, owned by Lee Mack, started
with the advent of moving pictures in the 1920's.
Before movies, the building was the Sebring
Opera House. It was built by Frank Sebring and
originally contained a roller skating rink and
electric organ. With the coming of the first
movies, the nickelodeon visited the Opera
House once a week.
It was opened on September 24, 1915 and
transitioned to the Strand Theatre. The opening
attraction was 'A Fool There Was' starring the
alluring Theda Bara, the Vampire Woman, and
This created a new life for the Opera House. It
was purchased by the Smith Amusement
Company of Alliance, which completely
remodeled the building. A vacuum cleaner
system was installed, was well as a ventilating
system, steam heat and drinking fountains, as
well as ladies and Gents rest rooms.
The orchestra pit is still in the building. In the
1940's admission was ten cents for children and
25 cents for adults. A highlight of the Strand
was Bank night, when, on Tuesdays and Fridays,
names were drawn for cash awards up to $500.
Strand Theatre Museum films to be cataloged in Library of Congress National Archives
Gayle Agnew Published: April 12, 2011 8:00PM Alliance Review
By GAYLE AGNEW
New treasures have recently been unearthed at the Strand Theatre Museum, home of the Sebring
A connection made through a person who contacted the society about the theater and saw the
reels of films referred museum officials to the Library of Congress.
According to society President Dery Zeppernick, she called and connected with George
Willeman, nitrate film vault manager at the Library of Congress. Willeman happened to be in the
Cleveland area last week and stopped in Sebring to pick up the films on his way back to
While at the Strand, Willeman looked at the films and was able to identify them by holding a
portion of the film up to the light. "The Indian Land Grab" was the first one Willeman looked at.
He said it is a unique film made by the Champion Film Company in 1910.
Two others are "On Secret Service" (Kay-Bee, 1912) and "Le Mystere des Roches de Kador"
(In the Grip of the Vampire) (Gaumont Co., 1913), reels one and two (the film was originally
Other titles are "The Matinee Idol" (Selig Polyscope Co., 1907) which Willeman said "is badly
decomposed, not sure if we can save this one, but we're trying," "Kind Hearted Gentleman"
(Pathé Frères, c. 1910), "Smuggled into America" (Lubin, 1909) and "The Coming of Sunbeam"
(Solax, 1913), for which he commented, "This is the real gem, a lost film by Alice Guy-Blache,
one of the first female directors and studio owners."
Willemen said that he will send the museum a CD-ROM of stills that he has captured along with
a video copy of any of these films that they are able to preserve. As far as the cost, the DVD will
be part of the exchange since the museum is gifting the reels to the Library of Congress. If the
society wants more or higher quality media in the future, such as a DigiBeta or an actual 35mm
print, then there would be costs for materials and lab work, according to Willemen.
Information on the historical society's website indicates that before operating as the Strand
Theatre, the building was the Sebring Opera House. It was built by Frank Sebring and originally
contained a roller-skating rink and electric organ. With the coming of the first movies, the
nickelodeon visited the opera house once a week. It was opened on Sept. 24, 1915, and
transitioned to the Strand Theatre and operated as a movie house until 1967.
According to the Kodak website, nitrate-based film, the pioneer of motion picture film bases,
was retired from cameras and laboratories in the early 1950s. The films must be handled with
care, as the film is relatively unstable: "If you store it in large quantities of about 5,000 feet or
more and in nonapproved storage cabinets without proper ventilation it becomes a fire hazard.
Admittedly, it takes a bit of pushing to cause it to burst into flames spontaneously. For example,
in one laboratory test, combustion occurred with a decomposing 1,000 foot roll of film only
after it was kept at 106 degrees for 17 days tightly encased in a can wrapped in insulation to
retain the heat of decomposition."
According to Willeman, The Strand films were stored outside the canisters, which better
One of the films found was thought to have been shot in 1949, the 50th anniversary of Sebring,
by Lee Mack, the owner at the time.
One of the remaining historical buildings in Sebring, tours and fundraising events are held at The