PRYOR, Okla. (AP) _ A renovated movie theater is helping attract business to downtown merchants in this Mayes County town.
But that isn't what drove businessman Gene Oliver to sink $700,000 into the renovation of the Allred.
Oliver's parents, Doyle and Kathleen Oliver, had owned the Allred since 1963, but his father's death and 12 years of leasing had left the building in horrible condition.
Last year, Oliver left a successful career in California's banking and mortgage industry to move back to Oklahoma to care for his ailing mother. He took over the theater at her request.
``I wasn't going to let the memory of my father and mother be disgraced with that trash dump,'' he said. ``That cut my heart out.
``I'm not going to have anything belonging to my family where people can't take their children.''
The renovated theater, built in 1917 by J.F. Allred, combines the nostalgia of the theaters of the 1940s and '50s with the latest technology, Oliver said.
The Allred reopened in April and has since had more than 6,000 customers. The theater is open seven days a week.
Oliver fitted the theater with a $120,000 sound system, but kept the building's art deco design.
The theater's terrazzo floors remain, while a new red carpet, accented with a cream-colored floral-like design, brings to mind theaters of the past.
``It was chosen specifically for that reason,'' he said. ``The theaters of the past had a very rich feeling to them ... an elegance that when you went to the movies you felt like you'd been somewhere.''
Nearby merchants have noticed more traffic in the area since the theater's reopening.
It's a needed boost for the community, said Trena Oura, owner of the nearby Village Shop.
``It's going to help the merchants in town,'' Oura said. ``Nothing against Tulsa, but now if you get off work late you can still get a bite to eat and still catch a movie. It's beautiful.''