On Friday, September 3, 2010, the Admiral Twin Drive-In suffered a devastating fire to its movie screen structure. The loss to the tower was complete. Today the charred remains of the tower have already been removed and there is little evidence of where this once proud icon of the Tulsa skyline stood for over 59 years. Fortunately, there were no injuries from this dramatic and destructive event.
As partners of this complex since 2000, Blake Smith (whose family had owned it since 1987) and Steve Peace found it nearly impossible to think of rebuilding this uninsured structure. But before the smoke had been extinguished, Tulsans began the plea to save this roadside icon of Route 66 and Tulsa’s nostalgic past. The outcry became so strong so quick, it seemed as if the decision was taken out of their hands. A realization of the deep emotions people have about the venue that has given them childhood memories with family as well as many courtship remembrances took control. Devastation turned to imagination with the fuel of overwhelming support.
A Facebook page titled “Save The Admiral Twin Drive-In” was established that is now over 25,000 friends and steadily growing. People are posting their memories and their encouragement.
It needs to be noted that some information that came out in the early moments, while the flames were still growing, needs clarification.
There is word that an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire and that an announcement is near. Since this structure was uninsured, the Fire Department has not conducted any further activities once the fire was fully extinguished. Unless some information comes to the front that is not now known, it is not believed that any other action to investigate will be taken at this time.
Also, a figure of $300,000 for rebuilding was stated, once again – while the fire was still roaring. The owners wish to state that this was a figure thrown out in the frenzy of the moment, but not based on any formal estimates – literally a figure pulled out of the smoky air. Today being the first business day since the fire, owners will begin the process of talking to architects and contractors for the purpose of establishing a plan with a budget.
The owners intend to research several rebuilding ideas while studying estimated costs. It is their desire to maintain the spirit of the original constructed design so that any new structure will be completely reminiscent of this long standing image. The reality of the tragic fire has allowed for thoughts of how to rebuild and utilize lessons learned over the nearly 60 years of operation. The possibility of more modern conveniences will be examined along with corresponding costs. If there is a silver lining, it is the chance to consider making this site the treasure of all Drive-Ins and create a revival of interest in this once American mainstay. There is hope of turning this back into the landmark it has been, but with a facelift that will make the Admiral Twin Drive-In a “must visit” Tulsa and Route 66 destination.
The owners are meeting with accountants and other advisors to determine the proper and legal steps for establishing a fundraising operation that is set-up from the beginning to be accountable, transparent and effective. They wish it to be known that in the case that the funds donated are deemed not enough to rebuild, they will donate the money to charities that will soon be announced.
The outpouring of support and willingness to contribute has been completely overwhelming and the owners are announcing the commitment of Productions of Tulsa, Inc. to assist in a number of ways – primarily in the fundraising matters.
Many people have come forward offering money or means of generating donations. Before anything could be established, a couple of benefit events were announced. Those efforts are greatly appreciated and contact with the promoters has been established. is charged with establishing an approved system for sanctioning fundraising activities and has been assigned the task to produce the first official fundraising event.
On Saturday, October 16, 2010, the Drive-In will be the site of a large festival that will feature some of the best known Tulsa entertainers. An announcement will follow soon that will provide the details of the show, the band line-up and other activities that are being worked on now. This might include a car show, kids activities and festival style food.
Blake Smith provides this quote: “Steve Peace and myself wish to thank the many people who have helped us turn this very unfortunate incident into such a positive cause. It was the outpouring of support from people during the first moments of the fire that initially gave us any thought about rebuilding. As the massive support continues from so many directions, we have a tremendous sense of duty to reestablish this entity that means so much to so many people. Last Friday morning we had no idea we would suddenly be facing the daunting task of what lies ahead. It is our mission to proceed with good plans and a deep respect for the wishes of people of Tulsa. Thank you for your many thoughtful ways of support, please stay engaged.”
A website is being built to handle donations, in the meantime, other ways to donate direct to the Save the Admiral Twin Drive-In fund include:
Mail to: Admiral Twin Drive-In at Security Bank PO 471316 Tulsa, OK 74147
Online donations can be made at: www.selectcinemas.com or at either of these two Facebook locations: “Save The Admiral Twin Drive-In” or Admiral Twin Drive In”
Any inquiries regarding fundraising ideas and opportunities can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.