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Bryant Center

Bryant Center

City/Town:
Location Class:
Built: 1960 | Abandoned: 1986
Historic Designation: African American Heritage Site
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Cody CooperBilly DixonMichael Schwarz

Bryant CenterThe Bryant Center was an idea thought up by two businessmen, H.T. Greenhaw and Ferrill Martin. Opening as Bryant Recreational Center which would become a place of entertainment for the mostly African American community in the Northeast side of Oklahoma City. Including a modern bowling alley, a huge auditorium with a capacity of 2,500 guests, restaurant and snack bar, and a private dining club. The grand opening was held on September 18, 1960, with a crowd of a few hundred enthusiastic patrons. It was the first building to be erected on the site of what was supposed to be a multi-million dollar shopping center. The part of the center that housed the bowling alley was called Bryant Bowl, it flaunted vibrant colors and 16 lanes with automatic pin-setters. The second floor was a more sophisticated vibe where the private club, club room, and lounge located up the ebony-suspended staircase.

The Bryant Recreational Center was not just a hub for entertainment, it became the epicenter of life for the long-suppressed African American community. This wonderful addition was the epicenter of Black events on the Eastside, allegedly holding “Miss Black Oklahoma” there and a speech by Martin Luther King Sr. who spoke for the candidacy of Clara Luper, a local Civil Rights activist, for Congress. Despite its success in the beginning the recreation center was closed and soon after the YMCA took it over running the property until 1986. It was then sold off to a holding company in 1989 where it has continued to sit for almost three decades deteriorating more and more. A new and improved Bryant Center was relocated a few streets over.




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Emily Cowan

Emily is a two-time published author of "Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State" and "Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World". With over two hundred published articles on our websites. Exploring since 2018 every aspect of this has become a passion for her. From educating, fighting to preserve, writing, and learning about history there is nothing she would rather do.

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carrie
carrie
6 years ago

The Bryant Center was opened by my grandparents Ferrill and Ruth Martin. I have ethe original deed and thre blue prints. My dad, Philip Sands Martin, twin sister Pamela said that Ray Charles played there and said that he wouldn't play if blacks weren't allowed. Here say, know but my dad was very passionate about equality. On my dad's 16th birthday, August 3rd 1960 after the, bowling alley opene, my father father was driving his mother, Ruth, owner, to Elk City to visit family, drove off an embankment on Route 66 and unfortunatley, Ruth did not make it. My dad's… Read more »

Monica
Monica
Reply to  carrie
1 year ago

Hello Carrie…just wondering if respectful urban explorers were allowed to visit? Or if you or someone in your family could give my husband and I a tour? Thanks for sharing.

Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
5 years ago

You posted this same spam comment twice you stupid waste of skin.

spraypaint champ
spraypaint champ
6 years ago

where is this place located i would love to go take a look???

Lynly
Lynly
11 years ago

Yes the bowling pins definitely look like they are bleeding.

Sparrow Nemore
Sparrow Nemore
1 year ago


Abandoned AR Team
Abandoned AR Team
5 years ago

Carrie, do you have any pictures from back in the day???

carrie
carrie
6 years ago

Thats some over simplification.

MAR
MAR
7 years ago

I have a 1968 telephone poster of IKE & TINA TURNER REVIEW when they played at BRYANT CENTER which was probably the 1st show that allowed BLACKS AND WHITES to go to a show&dance together on Jan. 5th 1968…if interested contact me…

Michael Colbert
Michael Colbert
Reply to  MAR
4 months ago

Hello my name is Michael the top hat is a blast from the past me and my sister were there every weekend coming home from Langston I would love to see that picture

Tery Leavell
Tery Leavell
11 years ago

Neat photos,I love coca-cola stuff so shot #23 is a favorite for me.Interesting also are the little glass bells on #42….and of course those last bowling pins!!! Take care—Tery

RummageThis
RummageThis
11 years ago

Heck yeah! It's about time some new pictures got posted of this. Ever since I told ya'll how to get in I've been waiting for some pictures. Place was pretty cool

Heather Anderson
Heather Anderson
Reply to  RummageThis
10 years ago

Hello, I'm not too far from this place. Can you tell me how you got into this building? I couldn't find the information you left in the earlier scout of this building. Thank you so much for exploring this interesting place, justtubin@yahoo.com

brett
brett
11 years ago

where is this place located i would love to go take a look???

Carl
Carl
Reply to  brett
6 years ago

i35 and Ne 21st

Eibach
Eibach
11 years ago

I was thinking that about the bowling pins.

AbandonedOK Team
11 years ago

Just noticed this, but does it not look like the bowling pins are bleeding in the last photo? is it just me?

Lelouch
Lelouch
Reply to  AbandonedOK Team
10 years ago

It's not just you. Creepy.

carrie
carrie
Reply to  AbandonedOK Team
6 years ago

thats hillarious

Fiend
Fiend
11 years ago

Just from looking at the pictures, I bet it smelled real pleasant in there 😉

AbandonedOK Team
Reply to  Fiend
11 years ago

what you don't really get a feel for in the photos, is the roofs condition… or I should say whats left of the roof… there was a good breeze throughout the building, so it didn't smell nearly as bad as it could of… but it did have that dead rat smell….

ms cmeonfire24-7
ms cmeonfire24-7
11 years ago

Excellent pictures. A very good friend of mine has had a personal interest in this building for several years. We tried contacting the owners to no avail. I would love to see this renovated and reopened. A place like this is very much needed in the community.

Sparrow Nemore
Sparrow Nemore
1 year ago

This place has since been renovated, the listing needs to be updated.

OriginalCeiling
Reply to  Sparrow Nemore
1 year ago

Hi Sparrow. A new Bryant Center has been built down the street a few blocks, the old one is still there, abandoned. I just drove by the other day.

Henry James
Henry James
8 years ago

Lessons learned When Bryant Center opened is was a big deal to Oklahoma City and it's citizens. Across the street from the center were a motel (Wayside Motel) and a night club (The Off-Beat). The opportunity for success in that area were great-but without a community that is educated enough to understand what was going on, it was doomed to perish. What happen to Bryant center is not unique, through out the U.S. Black economic opportunities have come and gone. In Los Angeles Marla Gibbs bought and existing night club and it failed-and so on and so on. One of… Read more »

Samantha
Samantha
Reply to  Henry James
6 years ago

Well, your a big pile of racist garbage. I love how you've decided you know what will fix the black communities but you can't even spell the word WHETHER!

carrie
carrie
Reply to  Henry James
6 years ago

Thats some over simplification!

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