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Darn it! I was hoping that you could solve the mystery for me — guess not!
Was the movie, “Oklahoma” one of the Cinerama features?
Thanks for the clarification!
Since you seem to be an expert, I have another question for you. Were there ever Cinerama Domes in Oklahoma? I found a photo at an estate sale that appears to be three Cinerama Domes, and the movie on one of them in Gone With the Wind. The photo was taken in September 1968, and on the back, it says, “Oklahoma.” So, I’m guessing that the photographer either saw the movie “Oklahoma” at the Cinerama in Sacremento or there were some domes here in OK. Any ideas? Here’s a link to the photo: http://flickr.com/photos/25726169@N03/3296008586/
Gone With the Wind was also shown in Cinerama at the Cooper in 1967.
Percy James, and African-American businessman, built four Jewel theaters (named after his daughter) in Ardmore, Wewoka, OKC, and Amarillo.
The one in OKC is closed but still standing. I don’t know about the rest of them.
Here’s a photo of what the theater looks like today.
This theater was one of four Jewel Theaters built by Percy H. James(the others were in Amarillo, Ardmore, and Wewoka). All of the theaters were named after James' daughter, Jewel, and served African-American communities during the days of segregation.
The Jewel Theater in OKC was built sometime in the 30’s, I believe. The first mention I find of it in the Daily Oklahoman archives is on March 26, 1937, when an inspector had to cut off the theater’s heating system because it was practically identical to the one used at the New London, Texas school that exploded the week before, killing over 400 teachers and children.
I know that the theater thrived through the 1960’s, but I find no mention of it in the archives after the 1980’s. However, the sign is still in good condition, so I think that, although the building is boarded up, someone is still taking care to preserve it until it can be reopened.
As for Percy James, he was quite a figure in OKC’s history. In the early 20’s, he worked for the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant and was befriended by the plant’s manager, who told James that he should start his own plant because Coca-Cola was not allowed to serve the African-American community. So, in 1926, James opened the Jay Kola Bottling Plant in NE OKC and quickly became a prominent leader in the community, which was called Deep Deuce. He built the four theaters and also built buildings in NE OKC that housed a hotel, restaurant, pool hall, and dress shop.
Percy also owned a grand home behind the bottling plant that he shared with his first wife Hattie, and their daughter, Jewel. Hattie and Percy divorced in 1940, and he soon married Avelia. They, too, divorced in 1948. I found another divorce for him in 1960 (Lurena was that wife), but I’m not sure if maybe this was our Percy or maybe his son.
James moved the bottling plant to a new location in 1963 and retired two years later due to illness. The plant shut down soon afterward. I couldn’t find an obituary for him, so I don’t know when he died. but I do know that his home and the original bottling plant were torn down during urban renewal, and a housing development was built on the site in the 80’s.
I’m going to post the photos I took of the Jewel Theater on Flickr and will link them here.
I seem to remember that prior to about 1990, the Texas Theater had an entirely different sign out front, and it looked like the whole front had some kind of siding on it. When Oliver Stone came to town to film JFK, he restored the facade to the way it looked in 1963. Does anyone remember what the theater looked like before he did that, or am I the only one?
I’m sad to hear that this lovely theater is gone. Recently, I ran across a couple of photos I took of it back in 1987. Here are the links:
I found another photo of this theater as it was being torn down. You can view it here:
The Linda Kay was located where Hwy 175 and, I think, I-635 intersect. It was open until the mid 1980’s, then it closed and was quickly torn down. I have one very bad photo from 1987. The screen was still up, but the parking area had been demolished.
Here it is:
Here’s a photo I took of the sign in 1987 or 1988:
I recently found a bunch of photos that I took of the Gemini before it was demolished. There are a few photos of the main sign when it was still up, the entry, the main snack bar (I think there were two), and the main (middle) screen. I went back a few months later and took photos of the signs laying on the ground. They aren’t the best quality, but they will give you some idea of what the theater looked like. Here’s a link:
The Gemini was a three-screen theater when I used to go there in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, I never heard it called the Gemini Twin until I started looking around on the internet for information about the theater today.
My grandfather, Duane Conner, was an architect in the 40’s and 50’s (and worked mostly in Oklahoma City), and I found a resume of his that states that he did the renovation to this theater in 1947. Here’s what his resume says:
“Complete rebuilding of condemned building, leaving only side walls and roof trusses in place”
Upon completion of this renovation, the theater seated 1,250 patrons, and the entire renovation cost $180,000, quite a sum back then, I think.
Does anyone have photos of the building as it looked after this renovation? I’m trying to get photos of as many buildings that he worked on as possible and am curious to see how he altered this grand old theater. He was very modern in his sensibilities, so it would be odd if his renovation would have kept the building looking as it did when it was built (and as it looks now).
Thanks for your help.
Okay, I have a question for those of you who are from Denver. My grandfather was an Oklhahoma City architect back in the late 40s – 50s, and I found an old resume of his that states that he designed the Tower Theater in Denver. I haven’t found that theater on this website. His resume says that he designed it in 1949, and he describes it as follows:
“Economical utilitization of steel rigid frames and roof system of standard manufacture for wide auditorium span” and “First moving picture theater with television projection booth”
It seated 1,000 patrons and cost $90,000 to build, so I don’t think that it was a big glamour palace — maybe just a small suburban theater.
Does anyone know of this theater, have photos of it, etc.?
What a fantastic theater, and how sad that it’s gone — for yet another same-as-it-ever-was strip center. Blah! When will people realize that mid-century modern architecture, such as the Cooper, is worth preserving, and, if Barnes & Noble wanted the site so badly, why couldn’t they have revamped the old theater? Sad.
Is there a newer theater in Healdton? I have an old resume belonging to my grandfather, who was an architect. It indicates that he (Duane Conner) designed this theater in 1949, and it seated 550 patrons. If you have any information or photos, please post them. Thanks. Lynne
I believe that my grandfather, Duane Conner, designed this theater in 1953. I found an old resume of his from that era, and it lists this theater. He also designed the Thompson Theater in Healdton, OK, which, from what his notes say, is similar in design. When designed, the theater had a capacity of 550 seats.