Lambertville – Then and Now
- Address: 12 Coryell St.
- Historic Name: Strand Theatre
- Today: Finkles Hardware Store – Warehouse
The Strand Theatre, at 12 Coryell Street opened in June of 1915. The June 24, 1915 edition of the Lambertville Record reported that the theatre drew a never-failing crowd of people to the moving picture shows where “comfort was the keynote.”
It has been reported that the Theatre opened in June 1915 with the screening of “Hearts Delight” starring box office legend Mary Pickford. However, Mary Pickford’s filmography does not include a film by that name. It does include a film called “Heart’s Adrift” released in 1914. If you look closely at this image, the posters are for the movie “The Diamond from the Sky” starring Lottie Pickford (Mary Pickford’s younger sister). That movie was also released in 1915. Did the Strand Theatre in Lambertville open with a Lottie Pickford movie or a Mary Pickford movie?
The Strand was owned by Trenton theater magnate Charles C. Hildinger (1876-1931) and was constructed by Hildinger and Philip Papier. They installed 700 mahogany opera chairs and a Seeburg Orchestrion [organ]. The neoclassical building was adorned with cartouches with festoons which were still intact and visible when the theater closed in the late 1960s.
Hildinger opened the Bijou Theatre in Trenton in 1906. Hildinger’s extraordinary rise from an impoverished youth in Pennsylvania who arrived in New Jersey without a nickel to his name, to successful talking motion picture pioneer earned him the nickname of the “Five Cent King of Trenton.”
In 1962, after operating at a loss for many years, the theater was taken over by Arthur Carduner of Philadelphia and Grand Bishop. It was renovated and operated as The New Strand, an art film theater. Unfortunately, on March 25, 1969 a fire erupted and although the brick walls and most of the roof remained intact, the interior of the theater was a total loss.
For years it has been a warehouse for Finkle and Sons Hardware.
In October 2020, plans were approved by the city of Lambertville to renovate the Strand Theatre into a multi-use space that will include a performance space and art studios in the front of the building, along with a rear apartment. It is exciting that the old Lambertville Strand Theatre will once again be a space for artful inspiration and community engagement.