drive in theater new jersey

It’s the Little Things…

…like when you park behind the abandoned Pennsauken Drive-In Theatre when you go out to dinner 😁😁😁😁😁

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Shore Drive-In (Closed, NJ)

Our Visit: January 2014

On a day off in January 2014, Dan and I took a road trip north to try and find a few drive-ins. Our luck was high, because we were able to visit 2 former drive-in sites. The Shore Drive-In and Fly-In Drive-In were 4.4 miles apart on Rt. 34 in Wall Township.

The downfall of our visit was that it had snowed prior to our visit, making it difficult to capture pictures of what remained for the Shore Drive-In. The site is not easily accessible, especially in the snow.

There are many speaker poles remaining, outlining the parking spaces and lanes for driving.

In addition to the speaker poles, there were two building remains. It is hard to ascertain the buildings’ purposes from my memory (2 years ago!) and the snow. I believe the red bricks were from the projection booth. The other I am not so sure…

History:

On May 12, 1948, the Shore Drive-In of Farmingdale*, NJ opened with the support and praise of various local businesses and residents. The Asbury Park Press newspaper (May 11, 1948) is littered with advertisements congratulating the Eastern Drive In Theatre Corporation on the opening of the Shore Drive-In. Supporters included Bell Supply Co, Drive-In Refreshments, Thomas Nicol Co, Jersey State Electric, Franklin Engineering, Monmouth Lumber Co, Anchor Post Fence Co, and many more.

 

Most notable was the support and recognition from the Park-In Theatre Company. The Park-In Theatre Company was Hollinghead’s company, the original creator of the Drive-In Theater. The Shore Drive-In was covered and license under the Hollingshead Patent for drive-ins.

 

Some interesting features for this drive-in included complementary bottle warming for mothers with young babies, in addition to the usual amenities offered by drive-ins.

 

Research of Eastern Drive In Theatre Corporation and James J. Thompson (owner) led to very little, except that they owned and operated several other NJ drive-ins including the Union DI (where the original moved after 3 years), Morris Plains DI and Totowa DI. However, the corporation and drive-in search did connect to Wilfred P. Smith.

 

Wilfred P. Smith was the general manager for Eastern Drive-In Corporation through 1950, having a hand in all of the beginning drive-ins in New Jersey, including the Shore Drive-In. He obviously took pride in the presentation and reputation of the drive-in, for he is quoted saying they were “striving for another NJ State Garden Club award such as was presented to our Union Drive-In Theater last year for landscaping, beauty, safety and civic achievement for a business enterprise along a main highway” (Asbury Park Press, 1948).

 

Smith left Eastern Drive-In Corporation to open his own drive-in in Ledgewood, and subsequently the Newton Drive-In. Although I was unable to find a lot of history on the Shore Drive-In, I was excited to be introduced to Wilfred P. Smith and his pioneering efforts. Hopefully he enjoyed the retired life, and his memory will live on in the drive-in world.

 

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Shore Drive-In, 5001 New Jersey 33, Wall Township, NJ 07727

The Shore Drive-In closed sometime after 1979. The screen was demolished in 2001.

Some more great photos: http://drive-ins.com/gallery/njtshor/shore-drive-in-theater-farmingdale-nj

*Depending on where you get your information, the Shore Drive-In may be listed as Collingwood Park, Wall Township, or Farmingdale. It was near Asbury Park, but not in that town.

 

Circus Drive-In (Hammonton, NJ) – Closed

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My Visit – 12/30/12:

Although my first experience with drive-ins occurred on a date to the Delsea Drive-In, my intent interest, and eventual creation of this blog, began after passing by the abandoned Circus Drive-In in Mullica Township, NJ. To think that there were living footprints of drive-ins throughout the country, mere miles from my own home, was incredible.

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The Circus Drive-In is visible from Rt. 30 (the White Horse Pike), if you look closely. The site has been overrun by trees and in the spring and winter; it can be difficult to spot the screen while speeding by. The screen is so close to the road! I have even taken to driving the White Horse Pike instead of the expressway to go to Atlantic City… all to pass this lone screen, standing still while time passes it by.

 

When we visited, it was very easy to navigate the grounds. Although many trees cover the property, the lines from the parking and driving have left easy trails. We found some cement blocks, most likely from speaker poles at one point in time. There is also some cement base – gray and red – from one of the buildings, presumingly the projection booth.

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Although this drive-in site is not very different from others I have visited, and even has less visible remains than some, it was the beginning of my …well, obsession.

 

History/Information:

For the first time in my research I have had contact with an owner of a drive-in, even if that person was not in charge at that time! According to Bruce Frank, CEO of Frank Family Entertainment Group and President of Frank Theatres, the Circus Drive-In opened in 1954. His grandfather and father opened this drive-in in honor of Bruce’s sister being born. Some personal accounts online say the theater opened in 1953.

 

Some accounts talk about a giant circus clown marquee – unfortunately, I have not been able to locate a photograph of the marquee. Mr. Bruce Frank has said that he does not have any photos but will pass them along if he comes across any.

 

The Circus DI closed by 1979. 35 years later the drive-in still leaves its mark.

Circus DI Aerial

Circus Drive-In 3320 S. Whitehorse Pike Hammonton, NJ 08037

 

For some historical photos, visit: http://www.drive-ins.com/gallery/njtcirc/circus-drive-in-hammonton-nj. The public has uploaded photos from visits in present-day, as well as posters and tickets! Very neat to see.

 

Other photographs from my visit – I had a lot of fun that day and snapped all sorts of angles.

There are quite a few to browse, I hope you enjoy!

 

Circus Drive-In Theater

 

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Screen (30E)

Driving south on Rt. 30 – you can see the screen behind the trees.

 

Screen from 30 W

Drive-by shot – screen seen from Rt. 30

 


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.