Local theatre company celebrating with historic display.
In 1914, Jake Jones, Sr. purchased the Cozy Theatre in Shawnee beginning a century of movie theatre ownership by the Jones family. To celebrate the centennial in 2014, Ronny Jones, president of Jones Theatres, Inc. and his staff have installed an elaborate historic display at the Santa Fe Depot Museum. Ronny Jones is the grandson of Jake Jones, Sr.
The exhibit will be open to the public during regular museum hours, 10 to 4 on Tuesday through Friday and 2 to 4 on Saturday and Sunday. The museum will be closed on Easter Sunday. Admission to the museum is a suggested donation of $2. The exhibit will run through June 15.
A number of people have been involved in developing this display. Greg Hopkins, a former Jones theatre employee, designed and constructed the exhibit. Sara Dame, Jones Theatres Assistant General Manager, created a historic video production of movie memorabilia that can be viewed in a miniature theater setting at the museum.
Carl Holt, longtime projectionist and Jones Theatre employee, restored the 35mm projector that is on display beside a vintage popcorn machine. (Sorry, no popping corn in the museum surroundings.)
Kuyrsdyn Storie, Cinema Centre 8 Manager, helped with the exhibit construction. David M. Hammer, Jones Theatre General Manager and fourth generation Jones family member, assisted in guiding the execution and displaying of the exhibit
The Cozy Theatre, which was renamed Ritz in 1926 began the storied history of the Jones’ movie theatres in Shawnee. In 1927 Jake Jones, Sr. built the Criterion and purchased the Savoy Theatre in 1935 renaming it the state.
Other members of the family continued their involvement in 1943 when Jake, Sr.’s son, Johnny, and daughter, Ruby, purchased the Odeon, and later renamed it the Jake. They continued to operate the theatres after Jake, Sr. died in 1947. The brother and sister business owners also purchased the Camera Theatre in Stillwater and renamed it the Crest. Their sister, Rosalind and husband, Doyle Banks, operated the Stillwater theatre as a companion to the Ritz and Jake.
In 1954, the Hornbeck, Bison, Tecumseh Drive-In and Shawnee’s Starlite Drive-In were added to Johnny and Ruby’s holdings in partnership with Video Independent Theatres of Oklahoma City.
When Ronny purchased Ruby’s interest in 1972 he joined his father to form Jones Theatres, Inc. Their first project was to create the Penthouse Theatre in the balcony area of the Hornbeck. This popular downtown theatre continues today offering discount admission to movies and features digital projection.
Many Shawnee folks will remember their excitement when Cinema Centre Twin opened on Harrison Street next to the Starlite-Drive-in to create a triple feature. When Carmike Cinemas purchased Video Independent Theatres, a joint venture was formed to offer benefits of a national chain with hometown supervision and attention to detail. That business plan continues today between the two companies. After the Starlite Drive-In closed in 1987, the Cinema Centre Twin was expanded with six additional auditoriums to become Cinema Centre 8.
In 2010, near the end of the first century of theatre ownership, Jones Theatres, Inc. assumed management of Movies Six at Shawnee Mall. They added digital projection, new seating, carpet, drapes and concessions to keep the mall anchor up to today’s theatre standards.
In May 2000 the Jones family donated their first theatre, the Ritz, to a Shawnee non-profit organization which uses the auditorium for theater productions, dance recitals, concerts and other civic events.
The Pottawatomie County Historical Society board of directors, and executive director, Ken Fullbright, are pleased that the Santa Fe Depot Museum is able to assist in the historic presentation of this member of Shawnee’s business community.