The theater opened on May 3, 1933, and according to Cinema Treasures, took its name from an airdome (outdoor) theater next door that was shaded by oak trees. The Shady Oak was part of the Arthur theater chain who operated as art theaters and they also ran the nearby Hi-Pointe Theater. The Arthur Theater chain went out of business, and the Wehrenberg Theatre chain changed the format to first run until the theater closed in August of 2000, a victim of multiplex theaters and a lack of parking.
The story goes, a man killed himself on the grounds before the theater was built. Film has been seen unwinding while sitting on the shelf the lobby speaker has shot off its hook only to be found fifteen feet away in the middle of the floor. People cleaning up after hours have felt a weird, uneasy feeling of being watched from the curtains at either side of the stage. Balcony lights have dimmed, only to slowly gain light again. Posters in the lobby have been found off their hooks or turned around when the theater opens in the morning. Cold spots have been felt & even someone saying “tisk,tisk,tisk,” sneering and even faint moaning from behind the curtains that lead to the back when no one is around. Not a place you want to be alone in after it closes.
The building was demolished in 2008 to make way for a new parking lot.