Arrow Theater

107 W. Frank Phillips Boulevard,
Bartlesville, OK 74003

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Griffith Amusement Company, Video Independent Theaters Inc.

Architects: Jack M. Corgan

Previous Names: Oklah Opera House, Liberty Vaudeville Theater, New Liberty Theater, Odeon Theater

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Arrow Theater

Located on what was then named W. 3rd Street. The Oklah Opera House was opened on September 26, 1907 with the play “Miss Pocahontas”. It had 820-seats (433-seats on the orchestra floor, 187-seats in the balcony and 200-seats in the gallery). There were four boxes on either side of the proscenium and two boxes at balcony level. The balcony and gallery were supported by pillars.Later a projection box was fitted at the rear of the balcony. It contained two Powers projectors. It was closed on April 4, 1925 with Mary Pickford in “Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall”

It was renamed Liberty Vaudeville Theatre, reopening on July 1, 1925 with the movie “Welcome Stranger” starring Florence Vidor. The gallery was reserved for African-American patrons only. It was renovated and reopened as the New Libery Theater on November 23, 1933. with Charlie Ruggles in “Mama Loves Papa”. It was taken over by the Griffith Amusement Company on September 13, 1934. It was closed on June 30, 1939 with Johnny Weissmuller in “Tarzan Finds a Son!”

It was renamed Odeon Theater from July 1, 1939, operating until closing on June 2, 1942 with Ginger Rogers in “Roxie Hart”.

In 1945 it was remodeled by removing the gallery level of seats. The front of the theater received a modern style. It reopened as the Arrow Theater on November 1, 1946 with Randolph Scott in “Home Sweet Homicide”. The balcony of the theatre had 253-seats, of which 192-seats were for African-American patrons only. By 1950 it was operated by Video Independent Theaters Inc.

The end of the Arrow Theater came on July 24, 1966 when the theater was empty between two matinee performances of “The Slender Thread” starring Sidney Poitier & Ann Bancroft, when the roof collapsed onto the seats below. Officials believed it had been weakened by heavy snow during the winter.

Contributed by Lauren Grubb, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The name Oklah was used for two theaters in Bartlesville, both opened in 1908. The 1909-1910 edition of Julius Cahn’s Official Theatrical Guide lists the Oklah Theatre with 820 seats; 433 on the main floor, 187 in the balcony, and 200 in the gallery. A biography of oil man Frank Phillips says that the Oklah Theatre opened on September 25, 1908.

Meanwhile, the book Bartlesville,Oklahoma, by Karen Smith Woods, has a photo of an Oklah Air Dome, which the caption says opened on May 3, 1908, and seated some 1500.

The photos of the Liberty and the Odeon at the Oklahoma History web site actually depict two different theaters. Searching on Liberty Bartlesville fetches two photos; one dated ca.1926 showing this building as the Liberty, and one dated ca.1940 showing the same building as the Odeon. Searching on Odeon Bartlesville fetches five photos; the same ca.1940 photo as the Liberty search, plus two interior photos dated ca.1930 (probably of the earlier Odeon) and two exterior shots dated ca.1937 and ca. 1940, both of which depict a different building than the Liberty, but the ca.1937 photo shows the same Odeon sign that was on the Liberty building in the first ca.1940 photo.

Some time around 1940, the name Odeon must have been moved from one theater to another. As the Liberty is the only Bartlesville house listed with the aka Odeon at Cinema Treasures, I don’t know if the first Odeon is still unlisted, or if it is listed under another name but is missing the aka.

dallasmovietheaters on August 30, 2021 at 2:33 pm

The 800-seat Oklah Opera House opened September 25, 1907 opening with the play, “Miss Pochahontas.” Its address was was 105-107 West Third Street. It switched to films and became the Oklah Theatre. Ventilation appears to have been a weakness so the Oklah Airdome launched May 9, 1909 operating in the warm summer months through the 1915 season.

In 1916, the Oklah Theatre improved ventilation and the Airdome was not opened for the season with the space converted. A big hit for the Oklah Theatre was its 1916 presentation of “Birth of a Nation.” It also had a big audience paying tribute to the late President Teddy Roosevelt at a memorial service in 1919.

The Oklah went out of business following an April 4, 1925 showing of Mary Pickford in “Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall.” A temporary closure ad was posted followed by a complaint by the property owner about equipment being removed from the premises by the operator.

Blanche L. Cutler, then managing the Odeon, gave the theatre brand new projection and a new interior renaming it on June 1, 1925 as the Liberty Theatre and “Welcome Stranger” on the big screen. The theatre was wired for sound to remain viable. Griffith Amusement Circuit bought out the theatre with a grand reopening on September 15, 1934. Movies ended initially on June 4, 1939 with a screening of “Men With Wings.” The space was used for wrestling the remainder of the month.

The Odeon Theatre closed on June 30, 1939 with “Tarzan Finds a Son” citing end of lease. The Odeon Building on Johnstone retained its name so the Odeon officially moved into the Liberty Theatre Building retaining the Liberty name but operating as the Odeon Theatre. The operators then moved its future bookings “temporarily” to the Liberty Theatre Building as the Odeon beginning on July 1, 1939 with “Confessions of a Nazi Spy.” (The picture of the Odeon in Cinema Treasures is from December 31, 1939 with “Judge Hardy and Son” on the big screen.) The theatre closed following the June 2, 1942 screening of “Roxie Hart.” It was used for sporadic events during World War II until a 1945 remodeling plan was introduced.

The theatre was gutted in 1945 for the creation a more modern theatre to the plans of architect Jack Corgan. That theatre would become the Arrow Theatre. That included moving the former opera house’s interior from a two balcony and wooden main floor to a single concrete floor with one, 191-seat balcony for African American patrons. The 728-seat theatre launched November 1, 1946 with an Open House followed by a November 3, 1946 screening of “Home Sweet Homicide.”

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