Designed by Pontiac architect Leo John Heenan, The Strand Theatre opened March 3, 1921, with almost 1,200 seats spread amongst a main floor and two balconies. A three‐story Renaissance‐style building, The Strand had a major renovation in 1949 by noted theatre architect C. Howard Crane. In its heyday, The Strand was one of six thriving movie palaces comprising a bustling downtown Theatre District. As changes occurred throughout the entertainment business and the community, this once vibrant family movie house fell onto hard times. The Strand finally closed near the end of the 1970s and was purchased by the City of Pontiac in 1986 for potential future restoration and re‐use. A renovation plan was put forth in 1987, but it fell apart, and then there was one “last hurrah” in the early 1990s when Detroit’s Attic Theatre briefly staged productions there.
At the beginning of the 21st century, Strand Theatre Center, Inc., a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation was formed and charged with rehabilitating the aging jewel into a cultural, film and theater center. Funds were secured for an estimated $10 million plan to transform the then 82‐year‐old structure – now conjoined with two adjacent historic commercial buildings – into a 30,000‐square‐foot theatre center. Poor project oversight, cost overruns, and constant changes in the plans depleted available funding and the project was halted before completion.
In late 2013, the theatre was purchased from the City of Pontiac by Kyle and Brent Westberg, Pontiac‐based developers and owners of West Construction Services, in order to preserve it for the community’s benefit. Ownership was in the name of Strand Theater Manager LLC (STM), a private, for‐profit entity. (Any historic building under rehabilitation using Federal Historic Tax credits requires a for‐profit entity somewhere in the structure.) STM secured funding from various sources including the MEDC and Federal Historic Tax Credits and is currently under construction on a complete $20 million rehabilitation of
the now 863‐seat theatre and its adjoining buildings. Completed in November 2016 with an official reopening on December 1. Another adjacent three‐story building at 8 North Saginaw was also purchased and has been brought into the complex so that it now includes 45,600‐square‐feet and spans 120 feet of Saginaw Street in the center of downtown Pontiac.
To professionally manage and operate the facility, a community‐based, private, nonprofit 501(c)(3), Encore Performing Arts Center (EPAC), was organized to lease the building and direct all operations and programming. Though EPAC is the legal corporate entity under which all functions occur, the name is seldom used, and activities are presented as Flagstar Strand Theatre.
Today - with three performance venues - the historic 900-seat Strand Theatre , the intimate Second @ Strand stage and the iconic Marquee stage, the Flagstar Strand Theatre hosts a wide variety of events each year from internationally recognized touring artists, to local favorites, and performances by the Strand's very own youth theatre company and educational programming.
Each unique space is also available for rent for parties, fundraisers, corporate events, weddings and more.
With all of this under one roof in the heart of Oakland County, the Flagstar Strand Theatre truly offers something for everyone.