Born on September 19, 1858, George L. Coleman Sr. was said to have been one of Miami's most successful businessmen. His path to success began when he moved to Miami in 1895. He and his brother, Alfred, were partners in a well drilling company, but they soon moved on to bigger things. They went on to aid in the discovery of lead and zinc deposits in Miami and built mines to dig up these precious metals. This soon led George L. Coleman to be one of Miami's first multi-millionaires.
After building a house in Miami (which is also registered to the National Register of Historic Places), George and Alfred bought interest in the Plains Motor Company, which they later renamed Coleman Motors Company. While visiting the coast, George saw a vaudeville Troupe, and fell in love with the style of entertainment. He wanted a theatre built to suit vaudeville shows. Thus, the Coleman Theatre of Miami, Oklahoma was born.
The theatre was built for a whopping $600,000 (8.9 million dollars in today's economy). The theatre was built by Rucks-Brandt Construction Co. and designed by the Boller Brothers of Kansas, who used the Spanish Mission Revival style of the late 19th century. The elegant Louis XV interior is decorated with gold leaf trim, silk damask, and stained glass panels.
Not included in the Coleman Theatre’s $600,000 price is its “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ, which was custom built and installed in 1928. It originally bought for $35,000, and had been custom-built for the theatre to accompany the silent films that would be shown there. In the mid-1970’s the Coleman Theatre fell on hard times, and its owners were forced to sell their Mighty Wurlitzer in order to stay afloat. However, in 1996, the citizens of Miami raised $85,000 in order to restore the organ and return it to its original home. In fact, The Coleman Theatre is one of the few theatres in the country to have its original organ, and it is still in use today.
In 1983, the theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Six years later, the Coleman family donated the theatre to the city of Miami under the conditions that it would be renovated and used as a center for the performing arts. Tours of this wonderful theatre are available to the public Tuesday-Friday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am- 2:00 pm.