Historic Capitol Hill
The Yale Theater was built in 1910 as an open air performing arts theater, then called the Capitol Hill Theater. In 1921, the name was changed to Yale Theater and, soon after, first run movies started to light up the big screen. In 1946, the building’s signature facade and marquee were added, and the building was renovated to modernize the movie going experience and expand its capacity to hold hundreds from the surrounding neighborhood.
The theater served as a centerpiece of the bustling south-side business district along 25th Street until the oil bust in the 1980s left much of the metro area empty and abandoned, including Capitol Hill. The Yale made a few fitful attempts to continue programming, including as a Spanish-language movie theater and wrestling venue, but for the most part, her lights were dark as she suffered alongside her community.
Yale Theater — 1951
Restoring An Icon
As Oklahoma City's modern-day renaissance began to shift the city center southward, real estate developers Steve Mason & Aimee Ahpeatone began exploring the neighborhoods south of the river. The Yale was not love at first sight — filled with decaying materials, layers of old paint and cringe-worthy outdated basics, Mason & Ahpeatone knew that she would take a lot of coaxing to return to her former glory. But there was a feeling of significance in the bones of the old building, a spark that might ignite the redevelopment of a the entire neighborhood, long ignored, but incredibly valuable to the urban core. And to the community who never left.
Work began in 2018. The vision for the restoration hinged on designing a space that could serve both as a welcoming gathering spot for locals — for cocktail hours to quinceañeras —and as a state-of-the-art venue space that would more tightly wrap the south side into the rest of the public arts investments in the rest of downtown. All while preserving anything of any architecturally historic significance.
What emerged is an art deco icon, reminiscent of Oklahoma City's heyday just after World War I. Her sleepy facade has been lovingly reawakened and her neon beacon beckons to all: Capitol Hill is on the rise.
Owners Steve Mason & Aimee Ahpeatone
South Side Gem
The Yale is a state-of-the-art event center, made to scale easily from intimate gatherings to live productions. The multi-million dollar renovation resulted in a completely new interior, with period-appropriate finishes, intricate architectural detail, a fully apportioned catering kitchen and a newly built mezzanine for two-tier floor space. Audio and visuals systems are top of the line, with a 16 ft presentation screen, theater quality sound and customizable lighting.
The refurbished ticket booth awaits each theater-goer at the entrance, in the spirit of a simpler time. Guests will enjoy the speakeasy style upstairs bar area, as well as the thoughtfully remodeled bathrooms. The main floor is fully accessible to patrons of all abilities.