I was thrilled when I heard about the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation, a non-profit working to bring the Strand Theatre in Oak Bluffs and the Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven back to life.
Since the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation announced its plans to raise $1 million dollars to renovate the two theaters, I have been following their progress, crossing my fingers that this goal would come to fruition, and that nothing would spoil such a marvelous feat of Vineyard magic.
And much to my joy, and that of countless others, it is true. The Capawock and the Strand are going to once again be an important part of the Island community. The foundation and the owners of the theaters, the Hall family, have signed a 20 year lease.
With the theaters being closed, the Island is underserved, the community is underserved. There is a hole in the heart of two down-Island towns.
Think about it, summer and blockbuster movies. A perfect combination, and sprinkle it with a perfect beach day, time with friends and family, and voila, Summer magic.
Originally opened in 1915, the Strand showed its last film in 2011. Since then, it has been used for storage and a clothing store. Such a grand building on a central corner of Oak Bluffs, with the Island theater across the street, you could not help but be sad about the lack of life.
However, now the Strand is seeing a lot of life. I met Mark Snider, Founding Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation, at the Strand last week. I could’t wait to go inside.
So many changes have already been made. When I walked in, Mark was in the process of working out the details for the seats. How exciting to be able to hear in person how things are progressing.
For Mark, this project is a labor of love. He remembers how much a part of his childhood the movie theaters on Martha’s Vineyard were. Some of his fondest memories are in the four walls of the theaters here, and he is not alone.
The amount of support the MVTF has received has been amazing, raising $800,000 of the $1 million needed to get this project off the ground.
When you walk into the Strand, you can’t help but think there is so much to do. The fabric is gone from the wall, things are being taken apart, this is happening. Soon there will be new seats, a state of the art movie system, a new concession stand, bathrooms, and so much more.
Though in rough shape, there is an air of dignity about this old theater. You can feel that it has stood the test of time and will continue on to greatness. This theater being open again adds so much to the town of Oak Bluffs. People can shop, dine, see a show, meet for drinks after.
Oak Bluffs has more to offer Islanders and visitors with the theater back in business. And, just think how great it will be to have such a grand building be grand again.
I should also mention that Mark said the concession stands will have some stellar items available for purchase. Another reason to love movies on the Vineyard. Can’t wait to see it all!
Wondering about the Island Theater across the street like I am — not to worry. The Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation is going to help renovate the outside of the building, so it is not such a blight on Circuit Avenue.
I wish that one could have been chosen for renovation, but there is too much that needs to be done to it. But hey, I was thrilled to know that it’s at least getting a facelift.
I was so excited to see the changes at the Strand, that Mark invited me to check out the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven. He happened to be heading over there.
Did you know that this theater opened in the early 1900’s too, 1913 to be exact? I had no idea how deeply woven these buildings are in Island history.
Things are further along at the Capawock. The chairs are out, soundproofing is being put in and workers are super busy.
Both theaters are going to serve the community in a number of ways. Of course there will be films shown there — and you won’t have to wait a month for new releases — but the theaters are also going to be available for other functions as well.
They can host lectures, serve as a music venue and so much more — especially the Capawock Theater with its sizable stage.
Having these theaters open will help revitalize the towns. Offering people more to do in town, keeping stores and restaurants busier, main streets brighter, a win all the way around.
Yes the buildings are being worked on but there is still a $200,000 gap in the money needed to have the doors opened Memorial Day weekend, click here to donate. Every dollar helps, big or small, let’s make this happen.
Once the initial funds are raised, there is more work for us to do. We have to support the theaters. We have to go to the movies.
With the help of the entire community, those who live here, and those who visit, we can keep the doors open and keep the lights on
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society is going to be responsible for the two newly renovated theaters, in addition to the Film Center in Tisbury Market Place.
I don’t know if anyone loves movies and movie theaters more than the MVFS’ own Richard Paradise. I can’t imagine how happy he is to see these two remarkable, historic theaters have a new lease on life.
This might offer a little incentive for you to support the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society because not only do you help fund the theaters but the same admission discounts are offered at all three theaters.
The plan is to have the Capawock open on May 29th and the Strand open on June 19th, so get ready to grab your honey or a friend, and I’ll see you at the movies.
*A special thanks to Mark Snider and all the members of the Martha’s Vineyard Theater Foundation for all your work and devotion, and also a big thanks to Anna Carringer and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum for the historic photos.
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