The Oaks Theater first opened its doors November 18, 1938. At the time, it was called “The Jewel of Oakmont” and featured indoor air conditioning, a real treat for the time. For the opening gala, the featured film was “Letter of Introduction,” an American comedy drama.
The original marquee featured an arched “Oaks” with large incandescent bulbs. The original design also featured large white tiles behind the marquee, some of which were discovered in the basement during the renovation in 2015.
The original entrance to the theater was open where today there are currently the first set of doors. The sides of the theater were brandished with art-deco style metal embellishments that held posters for feature films, at the top a small sign that read “OAKS” – the inspiration for our logo.
As you walked into the theater on opening day, there was no bar or even concession stand as is seen in later years, but rather a grand entrance leading up to another set of double doors.
Flowers decorated the way, and the lobby walls were furbished with beautiful wallpaper and art deco metal and mirror fixtures.
Posters for “You Can’t Take it With You” featuring James Stewart and Jean Arthur, and “Garden of the Moon” were displayed, and today you’ll see similar wooden framed poster boxes as you enter the lobby.
Once you reached the top of the lobby and passed through the double doors, you would have found the theater to be more open than it is now. Where currently there is a wall now separating the auditorium from the upper lobby, it once was open with a few supporting pillars. When the seating was full, people could stand in the back of the theater to watch.
The double staircases leading up to the projection room and downstairs to the restrooms are all original to the design and remain there today, along with the metal signage on the back wall. If you look closely, you’ll see just right of the center back wall a silver sign – it reads “Manager” and is still there today. The metal signs were carefully refurbished to preserve them during the renovation in 2015.
Many people have shared with us their stories and memories of visiting The Oaks Theater – from opening day, fond memories of trips with family members, to even those who used to work in the theater years ago.
We love hearing every single story, and we know that The Oaks Theater has a long and rich history full of fond memories.
That is why the current ownership group chose to preserve the theater for all generations, young and old, to continue to enjoy the entertainment it has to offer. For the Jewel of Oakmont to shine again, it just needed a little polish…