Is Minot’s Derelict Oak Park Theater Coming to Life?

Is Minot’s Derelict Oak Park Theater Coming to Life?

Oak Park Theater in Minot has been vacant almost as long as I can remember. I was born and raised in Minot, and I attended quite a few movies in this theater as a kid. I saw Jaws here (through my fingers, because my hands were clasped over my face every time that music started…. duuuuuuh duh), the forgettable ensemble movie Earthquake, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and most notably, Stars Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in 1977. By the time The Empire Strikes Back hit theaters in 1980, Oak Park Theater had fallen out of favor and Cine 5 at Dakota Square Mall was the new place to see a movie. For most of my young adult life, I remember this theater, and the strip mall in the same parking lot, as a vacant, derelict facility in somewhat sad condition.

The building has been used off and on over the years since then (as a church, a pool hall, and a discount theater), but has stood largely unused of late with only the memories of locals to color the tale — remembrances of the sparkling, lighted star atop the pole out front, and lines of people stretching across the parking lot, waiting to get in. After a showing, moviegoers in the balcony could exit out the door on the south side of the building, and it was always a shock to push open the door and emerge on the metal staircase into the cool night air.

Oak Park Theater

The era of the multiplex called an end to Oak Park Theater, but unlike the Empire Theater in downtown Minot (which was a paradise paved to put up a parking lot), the Oak Park Theater has managed to avoid the wrecking ball all these years, and now, nearly four decades later, this old lady might be poised for a comeback.

Oak Park Theater

According to the Minot Daily News, a Minot businessman has plans to re-open the Oak Park Theater in June of 2016 after a sizeable renovation and expansion. Plans include adding a second screen, and the renovated Oak Park Theater will become a theater for discount movies, indie features, film festivals, and onscreen gaming.

Oak Park Theater

Do you have memories of Oak Park Theater? Please leave a comment below.

Oak Park Theater

These photos were taken in November of 2014.

Oak Park Theater

Photos by Troy Larson, © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media


14 thoughts on “Is Minot’s Derelict Oak Park Theater Coming to Life?

  1. I remember seeing “National Treasure” with Nicholas Cage there sometime in the 2000s. The movie came out in 2004, so it must have been in that time period. It was kind of a second run discount theater at the time.

  2. I was an usher/projectionist at Oak Park Theatre while in high school, from 1973 to 1978. I was a great experiwnce, and I really hope that can bring it back to life.

  3. I worked there my senior year of highschool.. 1979-80.. I sold tickets and worked in the concession stand…

  4. I hope it does well this time around. I went a few times in the years before the flood and sometimes they couldn’t show the movie because there weren’t enough customers to even show the movie.

  5. Hi Dan , my sisters Kathy, Laurie and I (Webster girls) all worked there when you did! I hope it comes back to life also. In the summer I worked at Oak Park til 10 pm then went to work at the Outdoor theater til 2 am!

  6. My grandparents house was about a block away, and the iconic neon star was always visible from their dining room. I thought it was about the coolest thing ever, next to the big rotating M on one of the downtown buildings. Glad to hear this little theater will be getting some new life!

  7. I remember this place – never went in but remember the location well. By the way, when did they take the VW Beetle off the roof of the Ruud Insurance building just down the street?

  8. I remeber when it was a pool hall, a night club with a cool rave scene in the late 90’s and then a discount movie theater. Used to live by there. Loved the Chinese place in that strip mall and used to rent games at the video rental place. Alot of memories there

  9. I lived in Minot 1967. Oak Park was the shopping center to go to at that time.

  10. “Carwash”, “Apocolypse Now”…some of the movies from the 70’s. Intimate setting in this small theatre.

  11. I went to many movies in this theater as a young girl! It was the coolest theater at the time! On many of my trips back home, I would drive by it and feel sad that it was no longer being used. Very happy to hear it has a new beginning!

  12. Turtle Mountain Steel of Rolla ND built this theater. The manager, Curt Sande (my husband-to-be) designed and built that unique, beautiful stairway.

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