The Strand Theater was constructed and managed by Gioachino and Rosalia Sapienza in 1914. Gioachino and Rosalia were Italian immigrants seeking a new life and new opportunity in American and Zelienople. In order to blend in with their adopted community, they became known to friends and neighbors as Joseph and Rosalie. Joseph originally wanted to build a fruit market, but the local banker convinced him that the town really needed a theater. So two-thirds of the structure was dedicated to The Strand, and the remaining third was Sapienza's Fruit Market. The Strand featured silent films with live piano accompaniment as well as Vaudeville-style shows on its small stage.
In 1939, The Strand underwent its first major renovation and the structure was dedicated entirely to the theater, albeit with a nearly exclusive focus on the motion picture medium. Joseph moved his fruit market across the street into what is now 'The Silvershith Shoppe' and a tax preparation office. But the 'Sapienza' name is still emblazoned across the top of the building's facade.
The Strand thrived as a social center for Zelienople and Harmony for decades, providing a destination for families to escape the drudgery and routine of rural life to meet and enjoy a night's entertainment. But The Strand began to struggle when multiplex cinemas began dotting the suburban landscape. The theater became more of a drop-off point for parents to leave their kids for an afternoon matinee.
But with increased pressure from the onset of the Multi-Plex and VCR era, The Strand could no longer compete. One night In the early 1980's, The Strand closed its doors and they have not been open to the public since..................................until now.
There have been a variety of suitors for The Strand over the years. Developers and private investors considered making use of the building for everything from a mini-mall to a dance school to a dinner theater. As recently as Fall, 2000, the FBI considered The Strand as a field office. However, the extensive cost of buying and restoring the building has kept potential developers away.
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