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Yale Theater is poised for preservation
Black-and-white photographs from decades past offer a glimpse of the storied history of the Yale Theater, a mainstay of the commercial corridor of Capitol Hill since 1918. There’s no missing the iconic Art Deco marquee marking the Yale Theater and displaying the names of films from yesteryear. There’s no doubt that the Yale Theater was once one of the district’s crown jewels.
Like many of Oklahoma City’s urban commercial districts, the area fell on hard times. By the 1970s and ‘80s, suburban sprawl and the overall poor economy of the city caused Capitol Hill to decline further. The Yale Theater remained open but film screenings were replaced by wrestling matches and livestock auctions.
As a revived Calle Dos Cinco in Historic Capitol Hill greets neighbors and newcomers today, the talk of the district is Yale Theater and how it will once again become the crowd jewel of a burgeoning and revitalized urban district.
“This building is the trigger,” said Santiago Arzate Jr., who is the chairman of Calle Dos Cinco in Historic Capitol Hill. As Arzate named the district’s revitalization milestones, he explained leaders always knew a key to envisioning their vision for a thriving district was returning the Yale Theater to its former glory. Across the Oklahoma River, leaders took notes from theatre projects like the Plaza District’s Lyric Theatre and Uptown 23rd District’s Tower Theatre.
“What they basically created were pillars in their districts,” Arzate said. “That’s what we are trying to do. The education aspect is established big time here with Oklahoma City Community College, but what we need is to fill in with entertainment and arts elements. We are focused on people who want to bring that.”