Lake Worth Playhouse
713 Lake Avenue,
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The Oakley Theatre opened in 1924, by two brothers, Clarence and Lucian Oakley, at a cost reportedly around $150,000. It was designed in the Mediterranean Revival style which was popular in the area at that time. The letters “OT” can still be seen on the wooden beams of the auditorium’s ceiling. For the theatre’s opening night, a silent film, accompanied by both a Wurlitzer organ and live orchestra as well as a live stage review were on the program.
In 1928, a hurricane hit the Lake Worth area, and caused severe damage to the Oakley Theatre. The brothers vowed to rebuild, and by early-1929, they had. The style of the new theatre would be done in an Art Deco style. Just a few months after reopening, the Oakley Theatre was wired for sound films, but due to the Depression, business was not strong and the Oakley brothers fell into financial difficulties. Lucian committed suicide in 1931, and a year to the day after Lucian took his own life, Clarence died of a heart attack. It’s said to this day, the ghosts of the brothers haunt their theatre.
After the Oakley’s deaths, the theatre changed hands, formats, and names a number of times, including mainstream Hollywood movies, art films, and, towards the end, adult films. By the early-1970’s, the old movie house was in decrepit shape, and vacant for some time.
In 1975, the 22 year-old Lake Worth Playhouse, which had been meeting in part of the City Hall Building, purchased the former Oakley Theatre for their new home, and gave the theatre a much-needed renovation. In addition to legitmate theatre (including traditional musicals and cutting-edge modern drama), the Playhouse features a Playwright’s Workshop, youth theatre, poetry slams, concerts, and various special events.
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