When the Strand Theater opened in 1928, it was the first motion picture theater constructed east of the Anacostia River for African American patrons. For more than 40 years, the Strand was a center of community social life, reinforcing the self-sufficiency of the historically African American Deanwood neighborhood. It also reflected the trend in the early motion picture industry to provide affordable but segregated neighborhood-based entertainment.
The Strand is also notable for its association with the man who built and owned it, Abe E. Lichtman. A white Jew, Lichtman became a nationally known advocate for equal economic opportunities for African Americans, in addition to being an influential business leader through his ties with Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. At a time when few white business owners hired African American workers for white-color jobs, Lichtman maintained a predominantly African American theater staff, and he was also active in sponsoring recreational opportunities for youth in the community.
The Strand is designed in a stripped-down version of the Renaissance Revival style, with facades characterized by symmetrical balance and a restrained use of classical elements.
DC Inventory: June 26, 2008
National Register: November 25, 2008