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Previous Names: Lyric Theatre, Orpheum Theatre, New Theatre, Blaine Theatre, Ritz Theatre
The Lyric Theatre opened on November 3, 1909 by John Montgomery. Movie theatre pioneer Fred Smith took on the Lyric Theatre nameplate launching with Edison projectors and the film, “The James Boys” on March 19, 1910. Tingler & Salyer took on the venue and may have moved it in late-December of 1910. L.F. Hurt and E.S. Gray operated the Lyric Theatre in 1911. On September 14, 1912 under yet new operators, the venue was renamed the Orpheum Theatre.
The Orpheum Theatre was a successful silent movie house despite competition from the Cozy Theatre, and for a short while, the Liberty Theatre. Charles Blaine purchased both J.L. Greenwood’s Cozy Theatre and Sam Thomas of the Orpheum Theatre. The Cozy Theatre would remain open just long enough for Blaine to modernize the larger Orpheum Theatre and convert it to the New Theatre.
The New Theatre opened on June 22, 1928 with a name-the-theatre contest and the film, “Old Ironsides” with Wallace Beery. In December of 1928, the theatre installed a new Slide-O-Phone and would install Vitaphone for sound films. The switch to Vitaphone, however, took more than a year with the grand reopening of the Blaine Theatre on January 17, 1930 with “The Great Divide” with Dorothy Mackail.
Blaine would operate the Morgan Theatre and the Blaine Theatre in Henryetta as well as the Blaine Theatre in Weleetka. But he died in 1933 with the films running under the Blaine Estate Theatres Co. until being sold. Sam Cluck took on the Blaine Theatre in Weleetka renaming it the Ritz Theatre on July 6, 1935 with “Ruggles of the Red Gap” starring Charles Laughton.
Under new operators, the theatre became the Avon Theatre on March 4, 1938 with Warner Olan in “Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo.” The Avon Theatre closed at the end of a leasing cycle on March 31, 1954 with Maureen O'Sullivan in “Mission Over Korea.” The theatre appears to have come back for a period until closing permanently in 1960. Between 1940 and 1960, the town had lost around 35% of its population sinking below 1,200 residents.
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