Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tulsa Little Theater, 1932

1511 South Delaware Avenue (photo courtesy of the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

The Tulsa Little Theater was organized in 1922 and performed plays in a variety of locations; large canvas tents, movie theaters and even at the American Legion. By 1925, the Little Theater group numbered over 300 members and began to perform at the Alhambra Theater at 15th and Peoria.

In 1929, the Little Theater purchased the property at 15th and Delaware, which would be its home for the next 60 years. East Lynne, the first production at their new location was performed in a tent. Despite the depression, the Tulsa Little Theatre continued its performances and in 1932 completed its permanent building.

In 1932 a theater was built in a plain art nouveau style. The first show produced in their new building was the Cradle Song. During the 1930's and '40's, the Delaware Playhouse, as it became known, was the epicenter of Tulsa's arts and entertainment scene. Over the years, the theater hosted hundreds of plays and entertainment events as it went through multiple directors and saw actors come and go.

Over the years the theater suffered a series of fires and other disasters as it changed hands several times. By 2004, the building had fallen into serious disrepair. It was at this time that Tulsa attorney Bryce A. Hill was looking for a midtown location for his law office.

In 2004, Bryce and Sunshine Hill purchased the property and began a massive restoration process that took 14 months to complete. Today, The Tulsa Little Theater is a modern, state-of-the-art facility with a capacity of 260 people. During the restoration process, great care was utilized in maintaining the historical ambience as well as adding many new features for the Tulsa Little Theater. In addition to the theater, the law office of Bryce Hill is located in the front portion of the building.

There is a nice web site with additional information about the Tulsa Little Theater. It has an interesting history, and even a few ghosts. You can find this story HERE.


  1. I read an interesting article in The Little Theater. It turns out, people are still acting from long ago inside this place. The current people that own it say this place is very haunted.

  2. Back in the early 90's I became acquainted with Ruth Davis a Psychic and Real Estate lady. She bought the theater for us to have a place to put on plays, and have a hang out. I went there one rainy night with a friend to work on organizing the costumes. It was pitch dark in the entry way, we lite a lighter to find the wall switch. After turning on the light in the lobby, we started down the steps to turn on the lights in the seating area. I reached into the curtained booth to find the switch when I was struck on the head with something heavy. It hurt, but it also scared me, we finally found a light switch, and went up to the stage, my friend was scared to death to walk around that dark stage feeling for the lights behind that curtain after what had happened to me. But, we did and turned on the lights, when we were walking down toward the lobby, we noticed out of all the chairs folded up only one was pushed down into a sitting position number "13".

    We both grabbed our purses, turned out the lights run into the lobby, out the door. And when leaving all of a sudden the key we used to get in wouldn't work to lock the outside door. We left it, along with the lights on in the lobby until the next morning.

    1. I wrote this story Mari Hill...I go under the name Wymonia. I was a close friend of Ruth Davis, she held psychic meetings every Friday night in the lobby. She was amazing at reading situations and people. I miss her so much, she loved that old theater, it was our play house. It smelled musty, and was a bit creepy, what interesting times we had.

  3. Few people understand the reason why the main auditorium was sunk and had a round roof. According to information recently found that was published in the Tulsa World. The original idea was that upon securing additinal funds, a main stage theatre was to be subsequently built on ground level above the existing theatre space. And the existing space was then to be converted into a basement theatre.