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The Strand was built in 1918 as a movie and vaudeville house. It opened on the evening of November 11, 1918, billed as Dorchester's million dollar movie palace, with a double feature—Queen of the Sea, starring Annette Kellerman, and Out of a Clear Sky, starring Marguerite Clark, with extra added attraction Miss Emilie Earle, the songstress de luxe. It closed in 1960 due to disrepair, only to be reopened again in 1979 after the city of Boston made extensive renovations. The theater was designed by Funk and Wilcox in Boston and built by McGahey and O'Connor. The theater boasted the first theater organ in New England which reportedly cost $75,000. It hosted Chaminade Opera Group in 1990 under the direction of Florence Louise Pettitt.
In 2005, the Strand closed for six months for repairs, including upgrading the electrical switch gear, replacing 300 seats in the orchestra section, as well as cleaning and repairing the remaining 1,100 seats. These repairs were made in part by a $6 million, four-year capital investment from the city of Boston. In March 2006, the Strand closed its doors again for more improvements, including upgrading the safety and fire systems and renovating the box office and dressing rooms. In July 2008, the Strand's stage floor and orchestra pit were replaced and repairs were made to the facade and marquee. On January 9, 2007, Mayor Thomas Menino gave his State of the City Address from the stage of the Strand Theatre to help bring attention to restoration efforts and help revive the Strand's prominence in the city of Boston.
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