Looking over the ground that once housed a nine-story monster sized drive in screen, co-owner Blake Smith told Tulsa Today he is in shock. There is not much left except the foundation and artful concrete that lined the bottom of the screen tower. A cherished icon is reduced to mud and ash.
Built in 1952, first named The Modernaire, the Admiral Twin was a Tulsa Route 66 landmark. Smith purchased the Admiral Twin in 2000. As of 7:00 pm the cause of the fire was undetermined and Smith said the inspector was less than optimistic about discovering the cause because of the extent of the damage – not much remains. Smith said he would be willing to rebuild even to the original height, but a full restoration was unlikely as costs would be exorbitant.
The tower was not insured and Smith says they do not have the money to rebuild. With current building code, the tower would need to be made of metal and most likely different from the original.
Smith said he has already heard suggestions of a public fundraising drive but, “it is too soon to talk about a definite plan for restoration.”
On hand at the scene were Jarrod Gollihare, John Russell, and Mark Carr – members of the band named for the venue Admiral Twin. The band spoke about what the famed landmark meant to them.
“Anybody that’s grown up in Tulsa in the last 60 years and has been a movie going person has had many memories here.” When asked, the band said they were more than willing to be apart of any fund raising process to rebuild the theatre – concerned, like many Tulsans, that the Admiral Twin is unique loss of local history.
They feel too many of the city’s beloved landmarks are disappearing and big box theaters are not the same.
For the time being, The Admiral Twin drive-in theater is closed for the season. Scheduled was “The Outsiders” in which the drive-in scene features the grounds and screens now in ashes.
With uncertainty looming, Smith does not know if the drive-in will be able to make a full comeback. He is hopeful that the city will get behind the effort to rebuild The Admiral Twin, but like all people after a tragedy like this, Smith fears rebuilding may be impossible.
If you wish to make a donation to help rebuild The Admiral Twin, donations are being accepted at Security Bank on 51st and Hwy 169 under the name Select Cinemas.
About the author:
Aaron Sheppard is a long time believer in smaller government and responsible use of tax dollars. As a former City of Tulsa employee who worked in the Finance Department assisting in production of the Annual City Budget from 2001 to 2004, he experienced first hand the differences in what happens behind the scenes and what makes the news. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Phoenix and has worked in the private sector since 2004. You can read more from him on his WordPress blog at www.theperegrinfalcon.com.