|City/Town: • Oklahoma City
|Location Class: • Theater
|Built: • 1931 | Abandoned: • 1970s
|Historic Designation: • National Register of Historic Places (2009) • African American Heritage Site
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz
Owned and constructed in July 1931 by Hathyel L. and Percy H. James the Jewel Theatre is the last remaining African American theatre left in Oklahoma City. Featuring buff brick it contained a projection room, ticket booth, office, restrooms and a workroom as well as the main viewing area.
Being an African American business the Jewel was popularly featured in The Black Dispatch newspaper, run by Roscoe Dunjee. It was a staple piece of the community and to this day still is.
Paired with the outlawing of segregation and the dying theater business, the Jewel Theatre closed in the 1970s. All other buildings on the block surrounding the Jewel were demolished leaving the theater vulnerable and at risk of being lost forever. But the Jewel wouldn’t come down without a fight if the community had any say in it.
Arthur Hurst purchased the building in 1980 after it had been closed for a few years. Movements on social media to save the building headed the creation of The Jewel Foundation in 2010. Hoping to remodel the theatre into a functioning movie and play facility again. Multiple fundraising events have been thrown in an effort to raise $2 million for the restoration of the structure. In 2017 the foundation put on the Juneteenth Outdoor Film Festival to garner interest in the building. The original marquee had been removed and put into storage for safekeeping and eventual restoration. Efforts are still kicking in 2022 with multiple entities coming together to try and find a way to save this piece of African American history.
Gallery Below of Jewel Theatre
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