Dreamland, Alliance Church, Strand Theater (540 Oliver)

Dublin Core


Dreamland, Alliance Church, Strand Theater (540 Oliver)


The Strand at Oliver and 1st opened as a silent film and vaudeville theater on June 24, 1914, and was originally named "Dreamland." It joined several other picture houses in North Tonawanda, including the Oliver Theater (later known as Avondale, at Oliver and Robinson, today a parking lot) the Scenic Theater on Tremont (today, a secondhand store), and the Park Theater on Goundry. The Riviera would open in 1926.

Dreamland did not just show pictures and host vaudeville acts. Positioned at the start of the Avenues (then known as "Ironton"), the venue quickly became an important center for the Polish community. Concerts were held here to raise money for the building of the OLC church and school. Polish independence parades down Oliver ended here, and many ceremonies honoring community leaders took place here. In fact, in 1917 Dreamland was renamed the "White Eagle" theater to better reflect its importance to the Polish community (a white eagle, of course, being featured against a red field on the Polish flag). A March 1916 item identifies the owner as Stanley Gerlach, and a lessee as T. Sowrinski. Soon afterward, the White Eagle was moved to 7th Ave., and the theater at 1st was renamed the Strand Theater. By December 1927 the "Strand Theater" is advertised with A. Janick as proprietor.

Its later history, from the North Tonawanda History Museum:
From 1917 through the 1930’s, this building was the home of the Strand Theatre. From the 1930’s through the 1970’s, it housed the Alliance Church. From the 1970’s through 1990, a craft shop, Cris Crafts, ollowed by a cabinet-making business occupied the building. In 1991, the building was purchased from James Lewis by the Route 486 holding company and Micro Support Services worked under the umbrella of the holding company. David Berent was Vice President of Marketing for the company, having had over 27 years of experience with TRW, Olivetti, and Bell Telephone Systems.
The building is used today for a local band's rehearsal space and occasional concerts.


Strand Theatre, Alliance Church, photo (2016).jpg


540 Oliver Street. Photo by Dennis Reed Jr.