Closed with Remains

White Horse Pike Drive-In (Closed, NJ)

White Horse Pike LandmarkA white horse stands tall atop a towering post, in the center of the Lawnside Village shopping center. The last remnant of the White Horse Pike Drive-In Theatre.

 

If ever there were a mystery to solve about a drive-in, the White-Horse Pike Drive-In would be it! I pass this location almost daily and am astonished at the lack of information available on this drive-in. Usually my searches lead to numerous hits, resulting in time-consuming sorting through of information. However, I have hit a roadblock, a blockade! Here is what I can tell you about the drive-in:

 

  • The drive-in opened between 1963 and 1965. I know this because of Aerial shots of the location. The 1963 photo does not show any development of the drive-in. By 1965 the drive-in is visible from above. (http://historicaerials.com/)

 

  • The drive-in was owned by Sameric Theatres (Sam Shapiro). Sameric also owned the Black Horse Pike Drive-In Theatre. Sameric ran the Eric Theatres as well, including one in Pennsauken. Here is an advertisement from 1967 from the Courier Post newspaper: Sameric Movie Ads 050867 Courier Post

 

 

Okay, to sum it up:

White Horse Pike Drive-In Theater

  • Opened: Between 1963-1965
  • Closed: By 1969
  • Owned by Sameric Theatre Corp.

 

White Horse Pike Drive-In 310 White Horse Pike Lawnside, NJ 08045

White Horse Pike Drive-In
310 White Horse Pike
Lawnside, NJ 08045

 

 

Any additional information would be appreciated!

A huge thank you to John (http://www.flickr.com/photos/42444189@N04) – he provided the advertisements seen on this page. Check out his flickr page for local advertisements and photos. 

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Tacony-Palmyra Drive-In (NJ – Closed with Remains)

My Visit – 1/12/13:

January 12 was our “drive-in hopping” day. We visited 4 former drive-in sites that day! This had the easiest access since it is open and operates as an outdoor flea market.  As you pull into the driveway you meet the marquee, a ticket booth, and another small building.

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We passed by, with Dan’s encouragement for me to park first and then we could walk over (I was driving that day). We turned left towards the drive-in lot and parked in the back lane. Funny, when we actually go to watch movies we sit towards the middle. 😉

We walked around a chain-link fence to get back to the ticket booth and other building. First, let me say it is awesome that those who own the property have left these buildings. Whether it is for nostalgia, aesthetics, or cheaper than tearing them down, I’m happy they were there!

The ticket booth advertises the hours of the flea market, boosted a foot above the drive-way on a curb. The bottom part is made of brick, while the rest of the booth is cement. Similar to the Delsea Drive-In (Vineland, NJ), it seems that cars could approach the booth from either side to purchase their tickets for the evening, and this is confirmed from a photo taken in 1985 (seen at the end of this post). Current access to the flea market is on the right side only.

 

Tacony Palmyra DI Ticket Booth Entrance

Tacony Palmyra DI Ticket Booth Entrance 2 Tacony Palmyra DI Ticket Booth

An interesting tidbit is a metal piece found in the ground, to the left of the ticket booth. The name across the center is “Electro-Matic.” There is also a metal box atop a pole to the left of the Electro-Matic. With some quick research, it seems that the Electro-Matic and empty metal panel was part of a traffic-control system. These are usually used for automated traffic control, such as traffic lights and railroad systems. The earliest print ad I was able to find was 1954, putting it in the timeframe of the drive-in.  However, the ad does not depict the empty panel present at the drive-in. The panel seemed to hold several light bulbs. When discussing what I discovered with my boyfriend, he suggested that there might have been an automated gate that would rise when a car released the sensor. Another thought was that the Electro-Matic signaled a light for the ticket-seller to know someone was present. These are just guesses, of course. I have not found any concrete evidence of its use. 

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The original concession stand still stands and is still in use! You can purchase the usual quick-bite food, pass through the turnstile, and then use the restroom along the side of the building! (*Note: The concession was not open when we went, but I have read numerous posts where people talk about getting food inside.) 

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The projection booth still stands as well, with peeling paint and an overall decrepit appearance.

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Individual car speakers were invented and in use by the time this drive-in opened in 1957. However, there is a tall tower towards the back center of the lot. When I first visited I assumed the drive-in was older and used the projection sound. However, my guess would be a lighting system. (Segrave, K., “Drive-In Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933,” 1992.)

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Finally – the grading of the now parking lot is a testament to what the place represents for many people. What used to be parking for the movie now is used for parking for the flea market, as well as space for the vendors. Take a look at the aerial view and there is no doubt what used to be here.

Although the screens are no longer standing, it was really neat to see the remnants of the Tacony-Palmyra Drive-In.

[Some] History/Information:

The Tacony-Palmyra Drive-In Theatre opened in 1957. Shortly after (date unknown) another drive-in opened no more than 6 minutes down the road (Pennsauken Drive-In). Drive-ins were highly popular in the 50s and 60s, then started to decline. One person has posted that the drive-in was open in 1954 because of a movie listed on the marquee; however, I have not found any evidence of it opening prior to 1957. The movie being shown later is quite possible since drive-ins were not given priority or rights to “A-list” movies when they were released.

The Tacony-Palmyra Drive-In was at the base of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, that connects New Jersey to Pennsylvania (specifically, Philadelphia). This allowed easy access for residents of both states (although PA had plenty of drive-ins as well!). The drive-in had two screens at the end, but began as a single-screen theatre.

National Amusements owned the drive-in and added the flea market towards the end of the drive-in run. The drive-in closed in 1986, but the flea market has continued on ever since. There was a short closure of the flea market when WWII shells were discovered underground in 2008.

The screens were taken down at some point after 1998 since the following article says that they were present when the article was written (http://archives.citypaper.net/articles/071698/cover.side.shtml).

Check out this site for some historic photos of the area, including two photos from the Tacony-Palmyra Drive-In: http://cglen.com/SendIns/PREV/200911/PSJ_110709.htm/

TP DI - August 1985

Tacony Palmyra Drive In – August 1985

Tacony Palmyra Drive In - August 1985

Tacony Palmyra Drive In – August 1985

Tacony-Palymra Drive-In
201 Route 73
Palmyra, NJ

Bel-Air Churchville Drive-In Theatre (Closed)

My Visit – 8/10/13:

We had decided to take a day to head south a bit to the Baltimore area. My goal this drive-in season was to visit at least 2 open/operating drive-in theaters in addition to Delsea, and there is a theater right outside Baltimore (a later post!). On the way there, we made a stop at the former Bel-Air Churchville Drive-In Theatre in Churchville, MD.

A few miles off the highway, the drive-in was easy to locate. The marquee remains with the drive-in name partially readable and a large space used for advertisements.

Bel-Air Marquee

The front area, which used to be a restaurant, is now a garden center (named Big M Garden Center, an ode to the former restaurant “Big M”). A chain-link fence labeled “Beware of Dog” and “Private Property” separates the garden center and drive-in site.

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Entrance to Bel-Air DI

Bel Air Private Property

We approached the young men at the garden center to get some information and see if we could get some photos. We found out they only recently acquired the land for their business and cleaned out a lot of old materials from the restaurant (darn it – that would have been cool to see those artifacts!). They said the asphalt business that is on the drive-in site had been facing theft recently and suggested to get permission directly. Luckily, the awesome owner of the garden center walked back with us and one of the guys on the site said we could snap a few photos of the remaining features.

The screen is almost completely gone – small, rectangular panes are all that remains, leaving a zigzag pattern of a screen. Not wanting to impose, I didn’t walk through the brush towards the screen, but there did not seem to be any speaker poles left.

Bel Air Screen 3 Bel Air Screen 2 Bel Air Screen 1

The projection booth/restrooms remain in a dilapidated condition, as well as the concession stand (back of the restaurant). You can still see some of the labels for the bathroom and the name of the drive-in.

Projection Booth/ Restrooms:

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Concession Stand:

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There is also some grading left for the driving/parking for the theatre, but nothing overly noticeable.

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Attached to the restaurant is the former ticket booth. It was probably really neat to pull up to the window for your tickets and drive on in to watch the movies.

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History:

The Bel-Air Churchville Drive-In Theatre opened in 1952, with the capacity for 400 cars. The drive-in also operated the Big M restaurant, where servers would deliver food to your car while on roller-skates!

In the article, “A Bel Air landmark that time passed by,” Josh Mitchell addresses the closing of the drive-in and restaurant, covering many details of the rise-and-fall of the drive-in (The Baltimore Sun, 2005). John Manuel was the original owner of the 11 acre drive-in, but sold to Robert Wagner in 1989. In 1999 the Zelman couple bought into ownership, becoming partners with Wagner. Four years later, Wagner sold the property to the Ferrell family. The theatre and restaurant continued to rent the land from the Ferrell family until 2005. At that point, they could no longer afford to pay the rent. The decline in attendance and income began in 1994 and became unbearable by 2005.

The Bel-Air was lax on rules, allowing food to be brought in without a charge and pets were welcome. Both the drive-in and restaurant had prominent signs on Route 22, drawing in attention and motorists.

The next closest drive-in that is still operating is Bengies DI outside of Baltimore, in Middle River, MD. To give you an idea of the number of drive-ins within a reasonable driving distance, here is a list of a few theatre’s (name, location, and years of operation). The first four succumbed to the closing timeframe of most drive-ins, closing in the 70s and 80s.

Harford DI  – Aberdeen, MD 1953-1973
Carlin’s DI – Baltimore, MD  1958 -1977
North Point DI – Dundalk, MD 1948-1982
Pulaski DI – White Marsh, MD 1950s – 1985
Bengies DI – Middle River, MD 1956-present

Side Note: The owners and employees of the Big M Garden Center were very courteous, helpful, and interested in the history of the place. If you live in the area make sure to stop and browse – they have a nice selection!

Bel Air Aerial Shot

Bel-Air Churchville Drive-In
3035 Churchville Road
Churchville, MD

Other Photos:

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Links: 

The Super 130 Drive-In (Edgewater Park, NJ)

The Super 130 Drive-in is located in Edgewater Park, NJ. If you search for information about this particular drive-in you may also find it listed as Beverly, NJ, a nearby town.

This drive-in proved to be difficult to gain general information. From what I was able to uncover, the drive in closed sometime after 1985; however, I was unable to locate a date for when it opened! The Super 130 was owned by Budco Theaters, a company based out of Pennsylvania, which owned and operated several theaters (outdoor and indoor). Budco no longer exists, being bought out by AMC in 1987 (http://articles.philly.com/1987-01-01/business/26189851_1_budco-theaters-amc-spokesman-theater-complexes).

My Visit

On January 12, 2013 I took a trip to several former drive-in sites, including the Super 130 Drive-In. It was easy to determine the location on the map. When we arrived at the site, we entered from the back, right side. There is still paving from the parking but a lot of debris. We pulled over and walked through the site.

The Entrance

The Entrance

It was neat to see the paving, arcing to allow for maximum viewing. There was lots of trash and dumping is apparently popular at this location, and it was overgrown as well.

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Some artifacts of the past are still present, hinting at the fun times of the past. Speaker poles sprout from the ground at random locations throughout, with orange paint peeling off due to the various weather conditions over the years. Some of the speaker poles were next to what appeared to be a skeleton of an outlet box. Perhaps the Super 130 Drive-In had power outlets for speakers or heaters?

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I marvel at something’s ability to withstand the elements over time. A large cement rectangle marks either the former concession stand or projection booth. Tiles still remain of a once active restroom (perhaps) or kitchen area.

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My favorite find was the playground pieces. It was a bit haunting, to see the remnants of a once happy place. What is left is located in the back center of the drive-in. It is in direct view of the apartment buildings.

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Monkey Bars

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Please note, there is a “Do Not Enter” sign, allowing municipal vehicles only. If you do plan on visiting the drive-in site – please do not leave your mark. IMG_4190

Also, forums and news articles suggest that the site will soon become housing.

Another one bites the dust…

Picture 5

Aerial View

Approximate Address:

4319 U.S. 130

Edgewater Park, NJ 08010

Moonlite Drive-In (Closed)

Date of Visit: May 31, 2013

On our way to Ricketts Glen State Park for a weekend of camping and waterfalls, Dan and I decided to make a few stops along the way north. His choice: Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA. My choice: an abandoned drive-in of course!

The night before we left I checked my normal sites for information and Google mapped to see which drive-in was close and had visible remains. The Moonlite DI was the winner! (I found the approximate address through cinematreasures.org.)

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Marquee on Shoemaker Avenue

Dan was driving and I was hastily searching my GPS to find where exactly the entrance would be located. In the meantime our conversation went as follows:

Me: I can’t tell from the map! We have to be right here but I’m not sure where to stop… (looking at my phone).

Dan: What was it called?

Me: The Moonlite.

Dan: Well, that sign just said “Moonlite,” I’m going to guess that’s it.

Yup…I’m thankful he is so observant!

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The light bulbs are still there on the Moonlite sign!

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The entrance ended up being directly next to the Marquee, and it seems to be part of a driveway for a house. We parked by the ticket booth and began exploring on foot.

Entrance Road and Ticket Booth of the Moonlite DI

Entrance Road and Ticket Booth of the Moonlite DI


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Unfortunately it was very hot and very buggy, which affected the time I spent discovering and examining the remains of the Moonlite. From my web research of the Moonlite, several people have found interesting remains left behind: several different signs, projectors, & tickets. I did not notice any of these artifacts, but do not be disheartened! The vegetation growth was overwhelming – there could have been pieces of the drive-in hidden beneath the brush.

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The Concession Stand and Projection Booth (same building) looks a bit dilapidated. All windows and doors are boarded up and vines cover the walls. The two doors in the front of the concession stand were not shut or locked but I was too afraid of negative repercussions of investigating inside.

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View of the Concession Stand coming from the ticket booth, facing the screen.

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Open Doors of the Concession Stand

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A neat piece of the concession stand, found lying on the ground.

Speaker poles were present throughout the property. Some were merely poles, others had the holder for speakers. Here are two shots of the speakers, covered with grass and brush.

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If you’d like to see some neat photos from another blogger, I stumbled across this site: http://cherisundra.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-the-moonlite-drive-in/. My personal favorite photo comes from this flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hankrogers/5857785765/.

[Some] History:

From what I have gathered, the Moonlite opened in the 1950s and closed in the 1980s. It survived past the large decline of the 1970s but not by much. It was a single screen theater.

Since its closure, the property has attempted several sales to no avail. The Rizzo family, current landowners and last operators of the drive-in, have a suit against the county in regards to the sewer system installed. I was unable to find out the result of that suit or if it is still in the process. However, complaints about the drainage pipes go back to at least August 1997 (Council reports).

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Aerial View of the Moonlite Drive-In site.

Moonlite Drive-In

Closed

1190 Shoemaker Avenue

West Wyoming, PA 18644