Strand Theater - Jena, LA

Jena Municipal Office

The Strand Theater circa 1945
Under the leadership of Mayor Murphy McMillin, the Town Council and members of the Strand Task Force, the project to bring The Strand Theater back to life began in late 2009 with the removal of the temporary partitions in the interior of the old theater. Architect, Jack Breithaupt was commissioned to begin the historic research and the construction documentation to restore the facade in an effort to submit the building facade for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. In order to qualify for this status the building facade must meet certain criteria. The facade is complete and the process for applying for the Register has begun.

The Interior of the Strand will not be restored to its original movie theater interior, but instead will be “rehabilitated” as a flexible, multi-purpose Civic Hall capable of hosting both theater and banquet events. The interior rehabilitation will be approached in 2 major phases of construction as finances allow.

Phase I
Phase I will complete the lobby and balcony. This includes handicap restrooms and compliance to the standards of current building and fire codes for assembly occupancies. The heating, air conditioning and electrical supply for the lobby will make it usable for events when rented with the “big box” space in the rear. The entire building is required, by the state Fire Marshall, to have a sprinkler system. The big box area will be planned, during this Phase, to have conditioned air, so that it is comfortable when used with the lobby. If funds allow it will be implemented in the construction of Phase I, if not it will be included in Phase II.

Phase II
Phase II will transform the “big box” into a formal theater and banquet hall. The plans for the theater include a stage and backstage with a dressing area, restrooms, storage, stage performance lighting, concert acoustic elements, a catering preparation area, and a loading dock. The main floor area will be flexible in order to accommodate both tiered seating, for theater performances, and an open level floor for banquet tables and chairs.

Raising funds for the Strand has been a community effort. Funds have been received through anonymous donations, the Jena Merchants Association and public funds totaling $328,000.

Funds thus far have been spent on facade restoration, parapet roof repair, minor structural repair and architectural/engineering plans leaving a balance of approximately $200,000.

Over time, Mr. Breithaupt has presented various planning concepts to the Mayor and the Strand Task Force for the purpose of making programming decisions and establishing goals. Task Force members are Donny Richardson, Evie Talley, Julia Welch, Karen Creel, Kurt Girlinghouse, Marsheela Walters, Mike Adams, Morgan Tarpley, Tommy Sandifer, and Andy Girlinghouse. Ginger Breithaupt, Interior Designer for Breithaupt Atelier attends the Task Force meetings for planning purposes.

In late June 2013, letters were issued to perspective donors to raise funds to complete Phase II of the interior restoration. The town has also advertised in the Jena Times asking for public response to the fund raising efforts for this important project. From time to time we will be updating this communication to report total gifts received toward our $300,000.00 goal.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation. You can make your check payable to: Town of Jena Strand Theater Project

Mail to:
Town of Jena, Strand Theater Project
P.O. Box 26
Jena, LA 71342.

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