Located in the historic Whittier Square and built by architect/builder William R. Chilton, Circle Cinema opened in 1928 with a showing of “Across the Atlantic” with Monte Blue. Cost of the theater and its fixtures was about $62,000. Though the Circle Theater was built after the age of the silent movie, it was equipped with a two-manual, four-rank Robert-Morton pipe organ.
Although not the earliest or fanciest movie theater in Tulsa, the Circle Theater is the only pre-1960’s theater still in existence. Constructed in the Commercial Style, the Circle Theater is distinctive from the opulent and frequently exotic styles of big city movie palace architecture of the period. The restrained use of style is probably attributable to two factors: the lack of a professional architect in the design and the placement of the theater in an early suburban shopping center.
The setting of the Circle Theater is the most noticeable characteristic that set the theater apart from other buildings in the shopping center. As originally designed, the theater was located conspicuously closer to the street than any other building on the block. This relates directly to the historic function of the building as a movie theater. Selling an intangible, movie theaters relied on an intimate setting between the movie theater and patron to reduce distractions from the broader shopping district.
The Circle Theater is listed with the Oklahoma Historical Preservation office and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the venue still shows films and features a gallery showcasing local art.