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Designed by Thomas J. Hill Pierce in 1916, the Strand Theatre has long been a landmark of downtown Providence. Located behind the Biltmore Hotel, the Strand is one eight theatres constructed downtown between 1910 and 1930.  Of these, only the Strand, the former Majestic (now Trinity Rep), and the former Loew’s (now the Providence Performing Arts Center), remain. Corinthian pilasters adorn the upper stories of the three-story, stone-faced, steel frame building. A decorative parapet characteristic of Art Deco design extends above the roofline.

The motion-picture theatre operated continuously from 1916 until 1978. That year, the owners subsequently remodeled the building to provide commercial space in the former auditorium. A simple, uniform storefront replaced the mid-twentieth century façade. In the 1990s, the former cinema was again transformed, this time as a music venue. Despite relative success in this capacity, the Strand closed its doors in 1997. The following year, while the ground floor storefronts were occupied, the upper floors along Washington Street and the cinema space stood vacant. Prior to being included on the 1998 Most Endangered Properties listing, a proposal to convert the unused theatre into a parking garage raised concerns about the future of the historic theatre.

SAVED: The building was successfully converted for use as a night club, showcasing local and regional musicians. In 2004, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, a nearby music venue, was relocated from the Peerless building on Westminster Street to the Strand Theater. As of February, 2019, the venue continues to be popular and the interior has recently been remodeled.

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.