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Behind the Building: Brick Street Bar

<p>The corner of High Street and Poplar Street in 1963, featuring the Miami-Western Theatre, which is now known as Brick Street Bar. </p>

The corner of High Street and Poplar Street in 1963, featuring the Miami-Western Theatre, which is now known as Brick Street Bar.

Today, Brick Street Bar is a staple of the Uptown experience for Miami students. Still, you can tell from a glance at the building that there may be more history there than meets the eye.

“Brick” as it’s affectionately known by students, located at 36 E. High St., was built in 1938. The property was once the private residence of Arthur Ramsey, a local Oxford dentist at the time, and housed other private businesses. However, on Sept. 23, 1938, it was reopened as a movie theater after being rebuilt by the F&Y construction company. 

The building was originally named Miami-Western Theatre, after Miami’s Western College for Women. But, according to the Ohio Historic Inventory, the theater went through multiple names including “Act 1” and “This-n-That.”

Photo by Provided by Heritage Ohio | The Miami Student

The Miami-Western Theatre's front entrance in 1950. Brick Street still uses the marquee for messaging today. 

In 1979, the theater gained historic status through the Ohio Historic Inventory under the ownership of Katherine Snook. This means that the theater was recognized as having a historic form and character, likely due to its central location in Oxford. Additionally, the building now qualifies as “historic” due to its age and popular frontage. 

Part of the old movie theater decorations remain today at the Oxford Lane Library. The large mural in the library displays the Art Deco style that would have originally been throughout the theater, both inside and out. The mural made by Stiver Studios in 1938 also pays homage to the women's college that once helped populate the theater and was responsible for the name.

In the ’70s, the exterior was largely the same as today, yet the iconic red brick was originally a yellow adobe brick. Another notable change is the lack of the original lights above the main signs on the outside of the theater, though those have been gone since 1979.

However, the marquee that often displays different phrases each night is original to the building, as are parts of the original curved white tiles that flank the marquee, possibly dating back to its opening. 

The Miami-Western Theatre closed its doors after 50 years. In 1990, the building underwent remodeling to become a bar called First Run in 1993. This establishment lasted only a decade before what we now know as Brick Street took over the location in 2004.

Now, the Art Deco style inside has long since been replaced with various sports jerseys, posters and beer signs. Nevertheless, when walking through the bar someone can imagine what it might have been like as a central theater for the Oxford community.

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