The Strand Theatre, Long Serving
The Strand Theatre in Uphams Corner opened as a movie and vaudeville
palace. On November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed, ending World
War I, and that night the Strand Theater held its grand first-night
Vaudeville was the Strand’s entertainment format until "talkies" were
introduced in the ‘30’s. For more than thirty years following,
until 1969 when the theater closed due to declining ticket sales, the
Strand served as a first-run movie theater.
Recent Community History
Since 1969, the story of the Strand has been a struggle - funding major
repairs and building system upgrades, how to attract and schedule
programming, balancing events that portray the Strand as a performing
arts center and those that support community activities.
The reputation of the surrounding Uphams Corner community made
"selling" the Strand as a viable performance venue difficult.
Uphams Corner was known to be unsafe (dangerous), and parking was
difficult and distant. In a 12-month period, for example, from 2011
into 2012, Uphams Corner was the site of seven murders, a horrific
statistic for a landmass of 0.33 square miles. Even without the crime,
little else in the community served as points of attraction, not
retail, restaurants, parks or museums.
Today's Uphams Corner appears much the same though crime is way down
(zero murders in the last 12 months). The business district still
boasts historic buildings, the Dorchester North Burying Ground and, of
course, the Strand. A few name establishments distinguish the
business district: the Uphams Corner post office, CVS,
Footlocker and Walgreens. Recently, a new Dominican restaurant,
Paraiso, opened, upping the number of worthwhile restaurants from one
(Restaurant Laura) to two.
Steps Toward Revitalization
Slowly but steadily, the last five years at the Strand have witnessed
important change. The City of Boston has put over $6 million into the
Strand for repairs and upgrades. Improved relations with the arts
community have led to a doubling of the days active - 76 in 2010, 146
in 2011 and the number in 2012 expected to be greater still.
On November 11, 2011, the Strand Theatre celebrated its 93rd birthday
with a wonderful community celebration including a classy hand
decorated cake, itself a work of art, created by the Strand's manager,
Ms. Melodi Greene.
late 2011, Barbara Lewis of the Trotter Institute approached the Main
Street organization regarding her vision of revitalizing the Strand.
Initial meetings quickly refocused from the Strand "only" to
community itself - arts as an expression of the people who live there.
Xavier Torres from The Boston Foundation attended
meetings and the artistic ball of change began to roll while the
known to all parties, was put in place - the Fairmount Indigo planning
process scheduled to look in depth at Uphams Corner.
Arts Investment in the Community
ArtPlace is a partnership of various foundations, federal agencies and
banks that awards grants to specific organizations and communities to
support art and culture.
The Boston Foundation coordinated a one-year grant
from ArtPlace for $480,000 awarded in June 2012 to culturally
enrich Uphams Corner, hopefully stimulating an
appetite for the arts. While it will include programming at the Strand,
the funding is intended to act as a catalyst for community change.
Fairmount Indigo planning initiative held its first Uphams Corner
meeting in August 2012. Six themes were identified for the
entire 9.2 mile stretch of the new Indigo line including housing,
economic revitalization, quality of life and more. The physical
area included in detail planning for Uphams Corner includes a 1/2 mile
either side of the Fairmount line. Much of the Uphams Corner
business district falls within those boundaries including the Strand.
At a Fairmount meeting in 2012, the City of Boston announced a $3
million Infrastructure Improvements Project for the one-block section
of Columbia Road from Hancock Street to Dudley
Street. The project will be targeting improved sidewalks, better
lighting, additional crosswalks,
signal timing, streetscape aesthetics and signage. Establishing a
the Strand to free city parking is also one of the project goals.
Enhancing the Strand Theatre visitor's
experience is consistent with the Mayor's commitment to the Strand as
well as a necessary step towards effecting an environment that is
supportive of the arts.
Discovering Uphams Corner and the Strand
Uphams Corner is changing and is undergoing a revitalization.
Soon to sport a new appearance, Uphams Corner will look and feel new to the residents and visitors alike.
- The Strand Theatre is hosting excellent performances, many of them free.
- The community is much
safer than it used to be.
- The two quality
restaurants are worth the visit.
The "buzz" will spread and Uphams Corner will start to take on the
mantle of an arts destination because the community says: “It shall be
so.” Indeed, saying it is so
goes a long way toward creating a shared vision that manifests reality.
Your comments will be posted here and in
the Letters to the Editor after processing.
Posted: January 24, 2013
Nancy J Conrad