By Gordon Dristchilo, Rutland Herald – An upcoming project aims at putting more of a marketplace in Center Street Marketplace Park.
Developer Mark Foley is planning to open a restaurant in the long-vacant Strand theater, adjacent to the space formerly known as Center Street Alley.
Zoning Administrator Tara Kelly has already approved the restaurant because it is an allowed use in the downtown district, but the design itself is scheduled for architectural review Thursday. A computer graphic included with the application shows a brick facade at the front of the building, opening into the newly finished park.
Foley himself did not respond to media inquiries, but materials submitted to the city’s building and zoning office shed some light on his plans for the location.
The floor plan for the ground level shows three units — a restaurant and two retail spaces. The restaurant includes a 1,905-square-foot dining room with nine tables, 11 booths and a bar; a 986-square-f00t kitchen, 247 square feet of office space and two storage rooms totaling roughly 1,200 square feet.
The retail units would be 883 and 404 square feet.
The materials indicate that Foley intends to spend an estimated $190,000 on renovations.
James Davidson, curator for the Rutland Historical Society, said the former theater was built by the Shriners around the time of World War I.
“They operated as the Shrine Theater for two or three years,” he said. “I think it became the Strand Theater at that time.”
During the silent era, Davidson said, the Strand was a more significant movie house than the Paramount Theatre, which primarily hosted live performances before the advent of talkies.
“The Strand was a bigger theater, accommodated many more people than the Playhouse, known as the Paramount today,” he said.
Davidson was unsure when the Strand stopped operating as a theater. He said it was still running in 1947, because there are accounts of the massive flood of that year interrupting a movie. Davidson said that by the time he arrived in town in the 1960s, the building held Ray Beane Tire.
“They apparently gutted the place,” Davidson said. “They could get the cars in there, take tires off.”
More recently, the space behind the Rutland Area Food Co-op was the first home of the winter farmers market, which relocated after the Vermont Farmers Food Center opened.
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