122 N. Ohio Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Thompson Theatres Circuit
Functions: Dance Studio
This is a small town theatre that looks to be in shabby shape but was still in operation on week ends. It replaced an earlier Thompson Theatre (1940-1954) which has its own page on Cinema Treasures. The ‘new’ Thompson Theatre was opened on January 15, 1954 with Lloyd Bridges in “The Tall Texan”.
The side of the theatre along Route 3 has a mural painted from one end of the theatre to the other depicting historic sites and events in the area of Atoka. The front of the building gives the impression that the theatre has been boarded up since all but one door is closed in and painted a dark flat burgundy.
The theatre has a nice marquee but it seems that it is not in use as there was no attractions listed on it. It stretches from one side of the building to the other with the name in neon above each side. By 2013, movies had ceased, and the building has become a dance studio.
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Recent comments (view all 10 comments)
What a depressing description how do they stay open?
I spoke to the city manager yesterday. This theatre is now a dance studio. It closed sometime in the ‘70s. It was named after the Thompson family who, she explained, moved away during that time period. Atoka has no other theatres. She related some memories of the Thompson from her youth. Like too many other theatres, this one’s gone.
My father, Edwin Phillips, managed the Thompson Theatre. Yes, the Thompson family of Oklahoma City owned several theatres in various small towns in Oklahoma. Before the ‘new’ Thompson Theatre opened about 1954, there was the old Thompson on Court Street and the Pix Theatre was across the street. There was also the Choctaw Drive-In south of town.
The 1980 motion picture almanac lists John N. Thompson as president of Thompson Theaters Co. Three theaters in Atoka were listed – the Thompson, the Watson and the Choctaw Drive-In.
I believe that my grandfather, Duane Conner, designed this theater in 1953. I found an old resume of his from that era, and it lists this theater. He also designed the Thompson Theater in Healdton, OK, which, from what his notes say, is similar in design. When designed, the theater had a capacity of 550 seats.
We are planning to reopen the Thompson Theater in Tishomingo, OK. Any information and photos of the old theater would be greatly appreciated.
Here’s a view from May 2012. When we were there, workers were finishing up some interior renovation. The place looks good and is now a dance studio:
From 2010 a photo of the Thompson Theatre in Atoka.
In November, 2015 I was permitted to see the projection booth and I have included photos of the projectors. They were a mess. I cannot imagine film being run on them in this condition. The sound rack and rewind table with reel boxes were still there.
The original Thompson Theatre opened in an existing retail location in downtown Atoka on November 5, 1940. In 1953, this new Thompson Theatre was built in a prefabricated steel building was constructed. The “old” Thompson Theatre closed on January 14, 1954. The New Thompson Theatre opened the next day on January 15, 1954 with Lloyd Bridges in “The Tall Texan” projected on a radiant Astrolite curved screen ideally selected to play the many 3D films that were promised to come over the next decade… until they didn’t.