Movie Theatres on the Boardwalk
in Ocean City, New Jersey
1900 - 1989
Since the turn of the 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.
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.
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 those days 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.
Most of the older, black and white photographs were taken by Al Senior of Senior Studios in Ocean City, on Asbury Avenue. My thanks to Doris and Bob Marts for the pictures. Reprints, books, and many more photographs are available from their studio at 846 Asbury Avenue, Ocean City, NJ, 08226.
Most of the color photographs were taken by me.
This page was last updated on 04/13/99.