Featured attraction — Community group buys Strand Theater
Thanks to the hard work of several community members and local donors, the “show will go on” at the Strand Theater.
Malcolm “Bub” Gideons, the chairman of Pride of Atmore, said Monday that the organization has officially purchased the Strand building. Pride of Atmore is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization founded in December 2013, and dedicated to preserving the historical integrity of the Strand Theater and downtown Atmore.
Gideons especially thanked First National Bank & Trust for arranging a unique financing structure that will allow Pride of Atmore to start paying for the building, while continuing to raise funds through grants and other avenues.
Monday evening, Pride of Atmore volunteers opened up the Strand Theater to community members to visit and reminisce about past memories there. They served Pepsi products and popcorn, and proudly unveiled a new poster on the Strand’s exterior. The poster shows a historical scene of downtown Atmore in the Strand’s heyday.
“When the Strand Theater first closed, we kept hearing people say ‘what a shame,’” Gideons said. “Well, you can either just sit there and let things happen, or you can work together to try and save it.”
After the Strand’s closing in November 2013, the Pride of Atmore began a fund-raising campaign, asking for $100 donations from individuals and also seeking out business donations. Gideons said Monday that the campaign had already been successful, and also thanked the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ endowment for pledging $5,000 to the effort.
“There are so many people who have worked together to make this happen,” Gideons said. “Thank you to all of you. We own this building together.”
Plans are in the works for roof repairs and other renovations at the facility. Although a new use for the building has not been determined, there are many possibilities — including showing old movies, hosting community forums, or holding other local events.
“We want this to be a multi-purpose community forum that everyone can use and enjoy,” Gideons said. “The Pride of Atmore is using this building as a vehicle to bring downtown back to the way that it was.”
Those who wish to donate to Pride of Atmore and the “Save the Strand” effort can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call Gideons at (251) 359-6523, or send a tax-deductible check payable to Pride of Atmore to “P.O. Box 122, Atmore, AL 36504.”