ROCKLAND — The Simmons family has given the Strand Theatre to Friends of the Strand Theatre, a non-profit group formed in August to eventually own and operate the theater.

The late Matthew Simmons and his wife, Ellen, purchased the 1923 Main Street theater in 2003 and renovated it, opening for musical and dramatic performances, lectures and films in 2005. Matthew Simmons operated a Houston-based energy investment firm. He and his family owned a Rockport summer residence. Simmons died in August 2010.

Since the renovation, the Simmons family has provided financial support to the Strand’s operations, according to the theater’s website.

Two years ago the family asked a small committee to explore future options for the theater. That committee evolved into a board tasked with oversight of theater management and strategic direction. The board and the Simmons family eventually agreed that for the Strand to continue as a viable business and for the community at large to reap the economic and cultural benefits it offers was for the theater to become a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

As a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, the Strand can accept tax-deductible gifts and pursue grants from a variety of sources to underwrite the high quality programming its audiences have come to expect. The Strand will continue to offer programming including film, theater, music, educational and community events available.

The renovation of the 350 seat theater, according to a 2005 Bangor Daily News story, came from Matthew Simmons’ “love for theaters and old movies.”

For more information on how to support the Strand, see: Donations can also be sent to the theater at 345 Main Street, Rockland, Maine 04841 or contact Sarah Ruddy, executive director at or at (207) 701-5053.