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To see exactly what the Isis Theatre looked like go the the below web site and type in word “isis”. This photo is representative of what most Griffith Bros. theatres.
Old time showman have oft repeated a persistent rumor; Griffith Bros. Theatres were big frogs in little ponds, powerful in small towns of the hinterlands, known for bullying managers and devising ways to avoid minimum wage laws.
Griffith Theatres held little or no clout (or respect) in large towns like Muskogee, Oklahoma City, or Tulsa. In each of these cities Griffith controlled only two or three skid row theatres.
By the late 1940s Griffith finally broke into the big time when they bought the Barton Theatre Chain of OKC. About the same time Talbot sold a few of his mid size Tulsa houses to Griffith.
When Griffith sold out to RKO General and the name was changed to Video Independent Theatres. RKO invested money to upgrade the run down circuit which brought about new found prestige, and Video looked indestructable.
By the time Video noticed a young breed of creative showman who had come on scene it was too late. Video’s massive size and outdated practices caused a quick decline.
Below links show vintage views of the home of R. E. Griffith, youngest of the Griffith bros.
and View link
Courtesy of Tulsa Library come these 1899 images of the Lyric…
http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/D8103.jpg ~ http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/E0606.jpg
Above photo clearly illustrates that the Strand Cinema started life as the Wonder Land Theatre, probably Tulsa’s first movie house.
This 1885 photo depicts what may have been Tulsa’s very first stage theatre, the Famouse Variety Show, operated by Jack Marris. As native Tulsan Paul Harvey might say, photo caption tells “the rest of the story”.
While the Lyric was Tulsa’s first purpose built theatre, it was certianly not the very first theatre. As this 1885 photo depicts, on the corner of Commerce and Soledad sat Jack Marris' Famous Variety Show that presented live acts in a chamber behind Sim Hart’s Cigar Store. If the stage entertainment turned out not to be too hot, one could retreat upstairs to the 101 Gambling Rooms.
1918 Overholser Opera House program ad inside 1925 scrapbook
As Tulsa’s first “grand” building the Lyric’s rough exterior basically staying the same, but seemed to constantly evolve in subtle ways. Here is an 1896 image (photo right) that illustrats an early look.
I do suspect that the Lyric was like most other Eighteenth Century opera houses, occupying only upper floors. In later years a new stagehouse was built when the theatre expanded to utilize the entire interior.
Photo right of this c1907 image can be seen the arched entrance of the Strand Nickelodeon, just beyond Palace Clothiers. Lyric Theatre is seen photo left.
Photo left of this c1907 Main Street shot can be seen the Lyric and Roof Garden Theatre. Photo right is seen the arched entry way of the Strand Nickelodeon, just beyond Palace Clothiers.
Another shot of the former Broadway Theatre snapped in 1953. Rialto can be further up the street.
An important fact should be noted, once Warner Bros took over this house in 1930 the name changed to Warner’s Auditorium and the main entrance moved around the corner to 210 Northwest Sixth Street, and remained there until the theatre closed in 1951. Photos on above posting are of the Sixth Street entrance, showing the official name as Home State Auditorium.
During WWII years the tiny auditorium on the fifth floor began showing Fox News Reels, making this one of the first twin cinemas.
At the time of this writing e-bay has up for bid a postcard view of this theatre when it was still known as the Wonderland, shown before the Art Deco redo.
Other antique postcards with theatre views are the Frontier City Cinema, OKC, a 1920 color view of the Hippodrome, Okmulgee, and the Hinton (AKA-Ritz), Muskogee.
The e-Podunk web site provides this vintage postard view of this cinema-
Further research uncover facts about the Bijou Thetre. It was sat on Main just East of Broadway.
On May 19, 1915, the Strand Theatre opened inside the former Bijou. Grand opera stage productions moved in on Oct. 28, 1917. Motion pictures returned in March, 1918, and lasted until the house closed forever in early 1920.
From Tulsa Library’s Beryl Ford Collection come these Ritz auditoirum images -
Partial view of the pipe organ. Ben Hall’s book “Best Remaining Seats” has a wonderful shot of this instrument -
Brady Theatre auditorium view -
and after a 1940’s renovation -
Around 1912 the World Newspaper Building was converted into Tulsa’s first Rialto Theatre. After the World Bldg. was demolished to make way for a high rise Kress five and dime store, Rialto signage was moved next door to rename the Orpheum Theatre. From the Tulsa Library/Beryl Ford Collection comes this 1905 image of the World Bldg -
A tropical ambience permeated the Capri grounds. Mimosa trees, frothy ferns, and exotic foliage surrounded the porperty perimeter that formed a natural privacy fence.
From the Beryl Ford Collection comes this vintage view -
Was this building formerly a cinema? It certainly looks like it, especially the expansive marquee.
From RoadsideOK come these exceptional images of the Boomtown Theatre -
Usually the Uptown Theatre kept their display cases loaded with advertising cards and posters. For one reason or another poster baords are empty in this forlorn image -
Though it has been rumored that Griffith Amusement neglected their theatre interiors. It is also known that Griffith Amusement usually kept exteriors up to date, utilizing them as oversized billboards.
Long before the Will Rogers Theatre was to be torn down it was allowed to fall into decay -
Submitted here for your inspection is a 1920s photograph of the Railto Theatre. Rising above the Rialto can be seen the back side of the Criterion stage house, which was located one block North on Main St. A few doors right of the Rialto sat the Folly and Colonial. Around the corner (left) were the State and Liberty. Directly across the street was the Novelty.
This shot was taken before RKO bought control. During the short period when RKO operated this tiny house (above mentioned), a mamoth “42nd Street” style box marquee was installed that dominated the Railto facade, but the towering Coca-Cola sign still distracted attention.
To view image, in search field type in work ‘theatre’, then enter
Shown below are 1954 shots of the Akdar after it had been made over into a popular ballroom. Clear detail of ornate plasterwork can be studied in these views.
From Tulsa Library comes this image of the long neglected Lyric Theatre. Buildings across the street had already come down, and this shot would have been snapped a short time before the wrecking crew would move in to take down the 1895 Lyric Building.
Shown on below web site is an interesting night shot of the Cove Theater. Obviously the Cove catered to teen age taste.