Fair Park Drive-In

2937 NE 10th Street,
Oklahoma City, OK 73117

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Fair Park Drive-In

The Oklahoman of Oklahoma City ran a sidebar of drive-in history in the state. One entry was, “1948 - Fair Park Drive-in, the first all-black drive-in in the Southwest, is opened at NE 10 in Oklahoma City.” It was opened on July 17, 1948 with Glenn Ford in “Framed”.

This drive-in was at the southwest corner of NE 10th Street and N. Bryant Avenue. Nothing remains today. The 1948-49 Theatre Catalog listed it with a capacity of 250, Exec: Horace Falls, S. W. Theatres Co. It was gone in the next edition.

Commenting in the North Penn Twin’s entry on Cinema Treasures, Oklahoma historian Wesley Horton wrote, “Sewage treatment plants killed two drive in theatres in OKC, the Fairpark Drive-In and the North Penn Twin Drive-In.”

Contributed by Michael Kilgore

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

MichaelKilgore on April 10, 2021 at 9:16 pm

Daily Oklahoman, July 18, 1948: “Oklahoma City Saturday night (17) claimed to have the first drive-in theater in the southwest exclusively for Negroes. The $50,000 Fairpark Drive-In theater opened here Saturday night on NE 10, one mile east of Eastern. The theater was built by Southwestern Theaters Co., operated by H. R. Falls, H. E. McKenna and E. L. Walker. The company has headquarters in Oklahoma City.”

That first name was Horace R. Falls, who worked for Griffith Amusement for 20 years before leaving in 1946. Falls the ran a theater in Lawton for 2½ years, then went to Dallas in 1949, where he spent the rest of his life.

MichaelKilgore on January 14, 2022 at 11:28 am

I’ve uploaded the top of the Fair Park’s grand opening ad. It shows that the first program was the Glenn Ford movie “Framed,” plus a two-reel comedy and cartoon. There were two complete shows at 8:10 pm and 10 pm - quick turnaround!

Kenmore on May 28, 2023 at 11:44 am

A 1954 aerial shows only the faint hint of ramps. By 1957 even the hints of ramps are gone. It’s odd for a drive-in to be totally demolished with nothing to replace it. Yet even today it remains an open field.

I wonder if this was a temporary drive-in. That might explain the lack of foundations which would normally remain after a demolition.

MichaelKilgore on November 26, 2023 at 1:57 pm

I wrote in the second edition of “Drive-Ins of Route 66,” but neglected to mention here, that the Fair Park apparently closed on Aug. 18, 1948. Its ads in the Black Dispatch ended on Aug. 14, with movies listed through the following Wednesday.

The Black Dispatch is now available on Newspapers.com, and I found a couple more fragments of information there, though still nothing new about the drive-in’s closure.

The Fair Park was slow to open. In its first “opening soon” ad on June 5, 1948, it said “for opening date / see next weeks edition of this newspaper”. That optimistic note was followed by similar ads on (at least) June 12, June 19, and July 3.

On July 17, the date of the Fair Park’s grand opening, the Black Dispatch ran a front-page article on the drive-in’s manager. “Mr. H. R. Fall (sic) of the Southwest Theatres anounced this week his appointment of local hotel man and owner-operator of several eastside enterprises, Winard Norman, as manager of the state’s first Negro outdoor theatre, the Fair Park Drive-In … his new responsibilities entail management of ten employees who serve as ticket sellers, ushers, concession aides, etc.”

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