ENTERPRISE – The 95-year-old OK Theatre is back on the market.
OK Theatre owners Bill and Melisa Bush, who are currently teaching in an international school in Shanghai, China, notified realtor Bill Bushlen of General Land Office in Joseph last weekend that they want to list the historic movie theater.
They also put a notice on the OK Theatre’s Facebook page of their intention Sunday, Feb. 3: “We have come to the sad decision that we cannot attempt to run The OK from Shanghai. It’s just too far away. We have decided to put The OK up for sale.”
Bushlen, who was the realtor who sold the Bushes the theater in 2009, said Monday that he was preparing documents in preparation for the Bushes to sign. He said the asking price has not been settled.
During the Bushes tenure the OK Theatre hosted a Cinema Club, ghost hunters, a county film-making festival and a “The OK Theatre Matters” campaign in a national historical landmark challenge. It was also the scene for many concerts and other community events.
When the Bushes left for a two-year teaching job in China last summer, a plan for managers to run the theater in their absence fell through. There have been only a couple of events there since August.
Bushlen said that one of his challenges would be to try to improve the appearance of the front of the theater, which is now very unattractive because of an unfinished painting project. A painting job, which was being funded by a historical preservation grant, was halted because paint colors hadn’t been approved by the city landmark commission and other issues.
The owners had to leave because of their teaching contract before the issues could be taken care of, and they’ve been unresolved since that time.
The OK Theatre dates back to 1918, when it was built by A.B. Hackbarth. It went through several owners and a name change to Vista Theater in 1933, before it was purchased by Russell Ford in 1981 and restored to its original name.
Ford operated the business for almost 20 years before selling to Dave and Lisa Brandt in 2001. They ran the theater until they moved out of the area and closed it in December 2008. The historic business was closed for nine months until the Bushes bought it and reopened it in September 2009.