Oasis Theater

26 N. Plaza Street,
Ajo, AZ 85321

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The Oasis Theatre was operating prior to 1941.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

compassdriveins
compassdriveins on October 3, 2007 at 12:46 am

This closed theatre is in the Ajo “Plaza” downtown. The front lobby was used for a deli for many years. Last I heard the auditorium was converted to office space.

oksisk
oksisk on May 24, 2009 at 7:59 pm

The Oasis Theater is now Oasis Cafe (fully open) in the lobbly and into part of the theater. The large single-screen theater has been partly restored and films are being screened on a limited basis as part of a community-building effort by the International Sonoran Dessert Alliance. It seats 60 in the restored theater seats but patrons are also encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs to view the films in the remaining open space.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm

There have been at least two theaters called the Oasis in Ajo. The theater moved to a new location in 1948. The earlier Oasis was reported as a 550-seat house opened by Griffith Theatres on July 27, 1940, in the August 3 issue of Boxoffice that year. The August 14, 1948, issue of Boxoffice that year said that the Oasis Theatre had been closed and was being remodeled to become part of the New Cornelia Company store.

The August 28, 1948, issue of Boxoffice ran this story datelined Ajo:

“The 650-seat Oasis Theatre, built here by the Phelps Dodge Corp., opened recently with Mrs. Blanche Franck as manager. The Oasis boasts a large neon sign and a deeply wainscoted lobby with walls painted in ivory and green. Construction of the house included a cry room, waiting rooms, rest rooms and late model projection and sound equipment.”
I haven’t found any references to theaters in Ajo prior to 1940, but it’s possible that there was an even earlier Oasis Theatre there. Ajo was a booming copper mining town taken over by Phelps Dodge in 1921. A brief history of the town I came across said that on taking over, Phelps spent considerable money on Ajo’s downtown, including the construction of “…cinemas, schools, recreation halls, etc..”

The Oasis Theatre was, like the rest of the center of the town, designed in a Spanish Colonial/Mission style, and the new theater might have been put into a building already existing in 1948. The building is currently occupied by the Oasis Cafe. The address is 28 W. Plaza Street, Ajo, AZ, 83521. (West Plaza also appears on maps as Morondo Street, but Google Maps gives a more accurate location using the W. Plaza address.) CinemaTour has a slew of photos by Adam Martin. This blog post has two photos of the interior.

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