Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Akdar Theatre/Cimarron Ballroom

Look what I found at an antique store last month:

Love these candid street scenes. These were both taken in the same place and seem to be showing the difference between the sizes of the streetcars.
Written on this one: One of the Modernized & Double Truck cars of the United Service Company of Tulsa, Okla. The date stamped on the back of these is JAN 1931. And you can see the sign on the front of both streetcars advertising "No No Nanette" showing at the Akdar Theater.

Construction on the Akdar Theater began in the oil boom days. (click on photos to enlarge)

It was located at 221 W 4th (4th and Denver) where the bus station now resides. The building was designed by Rapp & Rapp. The sign on the front is for Marland Oil.

The Akdar opened Feb. 1, 1925 with an audience of 1,800 who saw the Ziegfeld musical comedy "Sally." The Akdar showed movies as well as "first class acts". What a beautiful, ornate theater. Check out the murals and the detail.

The Tulsa Civic Symphony (later the Tulsa Philharmonic) premiered at the Akdar in 1927.

These are the balcony seats:
By the early 1950's, the Akdar had been sold and it's name was changed to the Cimarron Ballroom. The seats on the ground floor were removed. Soundboards covered the beautiful fresco's and the sloped orchestra section was made level with a rock maple dance floor. Here are photos taken at various events showing the ballroom:
A view from the stage:

(looks like a big Conga line going here)

Looking northeast across 4th & Denver at the Akdar Temple Building in 1952. KRMG Radio Station is located on the first floor.

Leon McAuliffe and his Cimarron Boys called the Cimarron home. Leon was the former steel guitar player for Bob Wills.

July 29, 1961 Patsy Cline returned to the stage- the Cimarron Ballroom stage in particular -just 6 weeks after she had nearly died in a car accident. She was backed by Leon McAuliffe and his western swing band and performed to a 2,200-seat packed house. The show was recorded and released on CD in 1997. You can read more about it here

The wonderful Akdar/Cimarron was torn down in 1973.


Unknown said...

You packed a lot into this post. The interior of the Akdar was amazing. Was any of that salvaged or just dozed under?

Apparently there were no women in auto sales in 1955. At least not at the sales dinner. There is a '55 corvette at the front - Cool!

But what I am most impressed with are the slick street cars. Tulsa, like most cities, took a giant step backwards when public transportation was scrapped, IMHO.

Great post, thank you.

Anonymous said...

The Cimarron Ballroom was one of my parents favorite places to go. I've got a great pict of them all dressed up on a night out in the Ballroom! I'd never seen a photo of the outside of the building. Very impressive, too bad it was torn down. Jan

Anonymous said...

In 1952 I was in the Air Force, stationed in Enid OK. My buddies and I had many great times at the Cimarron Ballroom. To bad it's gone.

CarFreak said...

My grandfather was very active in the Tulsa Shriners and used to play a major role in organizing the Shrine Circus each year. Needless to say, we always got primo tickets to the affair!

iamtammi said...

My name is Tammi Bailey and I am married to Leon McAuliffe's grandson. If you could help me please find stuff on him I'd so love you!!

the b said...

I sang the last song there the day before they tore it down. Went through door ajar...inside dark and musty..felt my way to stage and sang Ghost Riders in the day, they put the wrecking ball to it.
Robert Fishback

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post. Was just discussing seeing Leon McAuliffe at the Cimarron.


Donna said...

Thank you very much. I remember going there as a teenager. Got drunk for the first time there. It was in the early 60s. I didn't realize until today while researching this that my great-grandparents had the property on which the Cimarron stood before it was sold to the Akdar people. They had a hotel that my great-grandfather, J.B. Davis, built there. He also was the contractor/builder on the Blue Dome. Thank you for the wonderful photos. I don't know where you got them, but it sure brought back memories.


Unknown said...

Donna, i would love to hear stories and see any photos of early Tulsa. I have read about your great grandfather. That is so fascinating!

Unknown said...

My father, Bob Lee, played trumpet with Leon McAuliffe's band there several days a week. It was broadcast over KVOO. His picture is inside that program you have with Leon on the cover. I was about three at the time, and they would hold me up to the microphone and let me sing "Take me Back To Tulsa". My father told me the whole band really wanted to play jazz, but Western Swing was what the crowds wanted, so the band would play till about midnight, then go somewhere and play the jazz they really wanted to play. You can kind of understand why my mother got a bit tired of this and the marriage didn't last, but I do have some great memories. Denise Lee Stallcup, daughter of Bob Lee, Trumpet Player in the band

Anonymous said...

Don't have anything left but my grandpa was mark ebenhack and was security at Cain's and the cimmaron long time friend d of Leon's and Bob wills and Eldon shambling my num if interested let me know .