|City/Town: • Bethany|
|Location Class: • Commercial • Theater|
|Built: • September 1, 1917, April 18, 1950 | Abandoned: • 1990s|
|Status: • Demolished|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team|
On September 1, 1917, over two hundred people gathered for a large picnic and watermelon feast for the informally opening of the Lakeside Country Club and Golf Course. Lakeside was a place of luxury with four tennis courts, a dance floor, a swimming pool, and a golf course on 135 acres. The clubhouse was of an English rustic design and cost around $14,000 to build. Before its grand opening, it already had a full membership of 500 and a growing waitlist.
Over the years many women played golf at the country club and in 1920 the club held its first big tournament. Lakeside decided its “Sunshine Nine” wasn’t event and doubled the size of its course becoming the second eighteen-hole course in Oklahoma City. The Stapleton Handicap Cup was the first tournament used to dedicate the new course. It would be one of the most successful country clubs in the OKC area for the next three decades.
In 1950, the Lakeside County Club and Golf Course just east of Lake Overholser became the Lake-Air Drive-In Theatre. Built and operated by Robert E. and Charles B. McFarland, the Lake-Air Theatre was one of three drive-ins in the US (at the time) to have a projection booth at the back of the 600 car lot instead of in the center. This prevented distortion of the film playing. The Lake-Air Drive-in made its debut on April 18th, 1950 with its first showing of Francis on its 60-foot screen. With its state-of-the-art projection and having the largest screen in Oklahoma City, the thirty-cent admission was a steal at the time.
Some of the films that showed there over the years included War and Peace, The Sun Trails, The Bad Seed, The Lone Ranger, Written on the Wind, Oklahoma! and Pillars of the Sky. In April of 1958, the drive-in underwent some updates including cleaning, painting, repairs, and improvements. A new enclosed balcony and patio, new equipment for the projection booth and outstanding landscaping. It reopened with the film Cowboy.
In a wonderful turn of events, our Abandoned Oklahoma website has formed a connection again! Some of you may be familiar with the Billboard Museum which strives to save Oklahoma’s historic signage. The Billboard Museum actually saved the Rio Siesta Motel sign. In September 2021 a gentleman by the name of Brian Choate commented on this article. His comment included a picture of his grandmother standing in front of the Lake-Air Drive-In sign. Now owned by the Billboard Museum Association they found Brian’s comment and responded with the following, “Brian! I’m so glad you posted this. This is the only photo we’ve seen of the sign still intact! We are the Billboard Museum Association and now own the sign. The family has no images and we’ve been scratching our heads as to what it looked like!” We love when we can bring a memory back, form a connection, educate or help preserve. What a cool story!
Gallery Below of Lakeside Golf Driving Range/Lake-Air Drive-In
[Photograph 2012.201.B0964.0267], photograph, December 23, 1933; (https://gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc1294170/: accessed November 26, 2021), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, https://gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
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