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Lakeside Golf Driving Range/Lake-Air Drive-In

Lakeside Golf Driving Range/Lake-Air Drive-In

Location Class:
Built: September 1, 1917, April 18, 1950 | Abandoned: 1990s
Status: Demolished
Photojournalist: AbandonedOK Team
Lakeside Golf Driving Range/Lake-Air Drive-In
Lakeside Golf & Country Club Dec 23, 1933

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.

Lakeside Golf Driving Range/Lake-Air Drive-In
Grand Opening of the Lake-Air Theatre

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 1959-60 Lake-Air was sold to local theater magnate, Robert Lewis Barton who owned it until its closing after the 1967 season. The drive-in closed after the 1967 season after being bought up by Spectro Theaters in an attempted remodeling and merger. All nine drive-ins owned by Barton were purchased and unfortunately, Lake-Air never reopened as a theatre.

But motorists started to speculate what was happening on the grounds in 1987 when dirt began to be moved, sod laid, thirty-foot poles and green nets. Shortly after it was announced by new owner Dale Watson that the former drive-in would be heading back to its roots and opening as the new Lakeside Golf Driving Range. Watson, who lives in Yukon, said he got tired of driving so far to practice and wanted a driving range closer to home. The grounds reopened with putting green, batting cages and a miniature golf course. This was a short-lived venture and the course was abandoned again in the late 1990s.

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!







[Photograph 2012.201.B0964.0267]photographDecember 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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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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