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The Logan County Genealogical Society, Inc.

Established In 1981

A History Of The Pollard Theatre

by Thelma Minnich

The site of the Pollard Theatre was originally occupied by a large wooden dry
goods store, built shortly after the Land Run of "89.
The current building, of brick and native stone, was constructed in 1901 as the
Patterson Furniture Store. It also served as the local funeral parlor, since it was
easy enough for cabinetmakers to also manage the town's need for coffins.

In 1919, George A. POLLARD purchased the building and converted it into a
vaudeville house.
Pollard was elected mayor of Guthrie in 1920 and leased the theatre to Ned
PEDIGO and A.B. FLORENCE for five years. In 1926, Al R. POWELL
leased the theatre.

Silent films and vaudeville programs were popular until 1929. With the advent
of talkie, Powell reconstructed the building, adding a large stage and orchestra
pit, hand-painted was murals, vitaphone talking picture equipment, a grand
marquee with room atop for an orchestra, and seating for 800. The theatre was
rechristened the "Melba", after a local citizen's daughter and hailed as
Oklahoma's first all-sound motion picture theatre. During the Depression, Powell
would accept an egg as admission - eggs were in short supply then - and he
made a business of boxing them for sale in the theatre. The Powell family, current
owners of Guthrie's drive-in theatre, operated the theatre until 1986.
Silent films and vaudeville programs were popular until 1929. With the advent of talkie, Powell reconstructed
the building, adding a large stage and orchestra pit, hand-painted was murals, vitaphone talking picture
equipment, a grand marquee with room atop for an orchestra, and seating for 800. The theatre was
rechristened the "Melba", after a local citizen's daughter and hailed as Oklahoma's first all-sound motion
picture theatre. During the Depression, Powell would accept an egg as admission - eggs were in short
supply then - and he made a business of boxing them for sale in the theatre. The Powell family, current
owners of Guthrie's drive-in theatre, operated the theatre until 1986.

The latest renovation of the building began in January, 1986, with over $500,000donated by private
industry and foundations and a $120,000 Urban Development Grant. The auditorium and stage received
most of the attention, since the task was to prepare a home for Oklahoma's resident professional theatre
company.
Students from Guthrie High School did a lion's share of the work, converting the 48'x18' movie stage to
the current 50'x50' theatre stage, completing the proscenium arch, installing new seats and ensuring
handicapped access. Riggers from San Antonio built a 14-line counterweight system for hoisting
scenery, and the stage roof was raised 22 feet.
Much of the old Melba was preserved, however, including the 1920s murals that adorn the auditorium
and the original tin ceiling and wrought iron chandeliers in the lobby.

The Pollard Company was formed in late 1987 and took over much of the finishing work, creating
the scene shop, dressing rooms, and office space in the adjacent Beland Building. Charles C.
SUGGS II, the Pollard's Producing Director, auditioned over 600 people to find the 17 who formed
this original group.
Many of the founding group still form the nucleus of the Pollard Company. The Company members
continue to function as performers, directors, designers, carpenters, costumes, painters, and in all
the other tasks a professional theatre requires.

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