Movie Theatres on the Boardwalk

in Ocean City, New Jersey

A History

 Click to see info on movie title

     Since the early years of the 20th century, theatres have held a prominent place on the Ocean City Boardwalk. First opening as playhouses for vaudeville acts, later presenting silent films to fascinated crowds, and eventually showing modern films with modern equipment. This page is an amateur's account of the old movie houses by the sea.

        
click one

By 1989, only four theatres had survived the years of hurricanes, fires, and development. Only three still ran movies. The Village, Moorlyn and Strand were the last of the old theatres, with the youngest having been built just before World War II.   Today only the Strand and the Moorlyn run movies.

 

 

 

 

This history was written from my many interviews with former employees, photographers, and from my amateur research of documents, box-office records, and old blueprints. I was employed as a projectionist starting in 1977 and quickly developed a real interest in the history of these old buildings.

 

In the 1980's the projectionists worked much as they did 50 years earlier. There was no automation in the projection room (except for one auditorium in the Moorlyn Twin). Film reels ran for 20 minutes, screens were lit with carbon arc lamps, and film was rewound with a hand crank. As a projectionist from 1977 to 1989 I spent countless hours sitting in a small projection bunker minding the machines as they hummed and chattered.
 

 


Helen Shriver Schilling inherited the theatres from her father, William Shriver, and owned them until 1989, when they were sold to a front company that turned out to be owned by local competitors. The buildings were quickly gutted and converted into multiplexes, keeping
none of the old theatre charm or quality. Most people familiar with the buildings, the history, and the owner were disappointed with the transformation. Planning Board and Historical Commission meetings and resolutions failed to prevent the haphazard conversions. Newspaper articles of the time spoke of a piece of history lost. Hopefully, these pages offer a glimpse at a modest but interesting Old Movie House industry on the boardwalk, now gone.


Click here to see aerial view of the boardwalk
(1986)

I enjoy getting comments from visitors as well as corrections and helpful information.  My amateur research is based on souvenirs from the theaters, photographs and a few public records. Bob Marts of Senior Studios used to indulge me in long discussions of speculation about the boardwalk timeline, and I will miss his friendly conversations.  But I'm always looking for clues to the missing pieces of this puzzle. 

-Jim Laymon

Please Sign my new Guestbook

View my old Guestbook

Links

News
 

 

I have a few more old blueprints to go through, and I have boxes and boxes of box office statements to skim through from the Moorlyn, Showboat, Strand, Park, Village, and Surf. I like to look up certain dates to see what was playing when I was born, or on D-Day, or opening day for the new Strand.  There are interesting notes in there, like when they were closed for Kennedy's funeral, or when the Moorlyn first opened with a movie with Sound.  I hope to find these treasures and scan a few. 

I would love to find:  A picture of the Village after the fire, but before 1933 when the seaport front was added.

New:

Here is the Moorlyn just after being moved.  It shows that the multi-sided corner was not removed when they moved it.  This is sometime before 1932 because the old marquee is still there.
Found picture showing Moorlyn had moved by July 1929.

Picture of Boardwalk frontage, 1910, taken from Young's Pier.

Most of the images on these pages are from postcards.  Many of the black and white photographs are from Senior Studios in Ocean City, used by permission.  The color photographs are my own snapshots.

Web site by Jim Laymon

   

Hit Counter

   
     

This site was last updated 05/07/06