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Bryant Cinema

2009 Photo from the Jennifer Carstensen collection.
115 W Main Ave
Bryant SD
(605) 628-2336

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Record #34372  
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Strand

Information for this tour was contributed by Jennifer Carstensen.

Since its construction in 1920, the Bryant Cinema has transported audiences to far-away lands, long-ago times and breathtaking locations, all from the comfort of its darkened auditorium.

But the real magic of this small-town theatre is the way area communities have come together to keep this landmark open and thriving. For 10 years, the Bryant Cinema has been run entirely by volunteers who offer their time for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows, as well as the grunt work in-between.

The theatre is owned by area shareholders under the administration of the Bryant Cinema Inc. A board of seven community members oversees the operation of the cinema.

From popping popcorn and selling tickets to splicing the film and managing concessions inventory, volunteers from Bryant and surrounding communities pull together to keep this important area attraction alive for future generations.

The magic of the silver screen came to Bryant, SD, in February of 1920 when The Strand theatre opened on Main Street. The first movie shown was "Daddy Long Legs" starring Mary Pickford, and admission was 5 cents, 15 cents and 25 cents.

The cinema quickly became an important source of entertainment and a gathering place for friends and neighbors. Fun community traditions arose, such as "Bank Nights" where names were entered into a drawing for prize money.

When the cinema's owner decided to sell in 1999, no buyer came forward, and area residents began to fear that their precious movie screen would be dark forever. That is when a group of residents formulated a plan to save this small-town treasure.

Determined to keep their community movie theatre open, a group of residents spearheaded an effort to buy the cinema, selling theatre shares and accepting donations. Bryant Cinema Inc. was established in the summer of 1999 and a goal was set to raise $30,000 to purchase the building and equipment and for initial operating costs.

In a testament to the importance of this show hall, the group exceeded its goal and the Bryant Cinema celebrated its Grand Opening on Sept. 18, 1999, with the film "Runaway Bride."

In the 10 years since then, area residents and volunteers have inspired a new excitement for their theatre and created a whole new life for the historic structure.

In the fall of 2008, an addition was opened housing an enhanced concession area as well as handicap-accessible restrooms. A number of additional improvements have been made including installation of a new screen, adding carpeting and new curtains to the side walls in the theatre and purchase of a new spool and platter for the movie projector.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

June 2009 photos from the Jennifer Carstensen collection.

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Last featured 8/23/2009. Last edited 9/6/2009.

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