drive-in theatre

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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Mahoning Drive-In (Open – PA)

IMG_4595History

The Mahoning Drive-In Theatre opened in 1949 and continues operation today! Bethlehem Steel constructed the 105-foot Cinemascope screen in 1948.

The ownership or management is a bit spotty – but thanks to Billboard, the user NeonMichael on Cinematreasures.org, and the author of www.carload.com, I have a general idea:

  • 1949: Opened. Operated by Max Korr, Mitchell Rappaport and Shirer. A.M. Ellis also took up 50% interest in to the Mahoning (Ellis Theaters of New Jersey). Ellis operated drive-ins in New Jersey.
  • 1956: Owned by Ellis Theatres
  • 1952: Joseph J. Humphries and R. C. H. Becker Sr
  • 1963-66: Claude Reinhard
  • 1978: Riant Entp
  • 1980-82: J. Morgan
  • 1982-1998: Amos Theaters Inc (Joseph Farruggio)
  • ? – 2013: Owned by Mike and Deb Danchak, who also own the nearby Angel Theatre in Coaldale.
  • 2014-present: Jeff Mattox
    • July 2014: Added Matt McClanahan and Virgil Cardamone

 

Over the years, the car capacity increased gradually to eventually reach the current capacity of approximately 900 cars.

In 2013, Mike and Deb Danchak closed the theatre for the season on September 8. This was the time the movie industry announced they would be switching film from 35mm to digital – with no more than one year left for possible 35mm films available for current movies.

A digital projector was a pricey investment. A bamboozler – Glen Brannon – took advantage of the drive-ins difficulties and reached out to Mike Danchak about saving the theater. There was a major fundraising effort to fix-up the drive-in. Volunteers came to the drive-in and painted the projection booth, for example. There was an online fundraising page to raise money for the projector and other needed improvements. Depending on the amount you donated, you were able to receive a gift of some kind. I remember seeing the opportunity to buy carload passes for the upcoming season as well. Personally, I donated money in hopes to keep the theater alive and running! Brannon headed all of these processes, with the promise of updating and revitalizing the Mahoning DI.

However, Brannon turned out to be a swindler. He had dealings with several other theaters and you will be hard pressed to find a positive piece of information about Brannon. See the given links at the end of this post for information about Brannon.

Jeff Mattox took over the drive-in in 2014 and for a brief stint, renamed the theater as “Big Pocono Outdoor Theater.” He managed the Mahoning from 2001-2007, and part of the 2010 season, prior to returning as the new owner. On July 22, 2014, Mattox officially added McClanahan and Cardamone (Mahoning FB page).

For the 2014 season, the Mahoning continued to show first-run movies from the companies that would provide 35mm films. Per a Facebook post on March 17, 2014, Jeff initially believed the Mahoning would need to purchase a digital projector to continue into the 2015 season. However, the Mahoning switched to nostalgic movies for the 2015 season and continues today. You also have the option to camp if you are interested.

As quoted from the official Mahoning Drive-In website: “We offer an exclusively retro 35mm film program, which is presented reel-to-reel via original 1940’s Simplex projectors! Our goal; to deliver you a true love of film, and the nostalgic movie going experience you can only get at the drive-in!”

 

Our Visit (September 14, 2013)

Our stop at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater was a double hit – we had a movie night at Laurel Drive-In Theater (35 minutes away), but also stopped by the Mahoning for a brief photo shoot!

The Mahoning Drive-In had closed for the season the previous weekend, but we still wanted to see the property. I was instantly excited by the beautiful marquee – the red arrow directing patrons was eye-catching and gorgeous. Who doesn’t love an old-fashioned drive-in marquee?IMG_4597

We approached the drive-in property – you can see the screen as you drive down Seneca Road. Mahoning DI has a fun entrance with ticket booth and overhand introducing the theatre. The left side was blocked with a chain, and based on the tracks on the ground, has not been used in quite some time. Regardless, you could easily picture two rows of cars lined up for a night of movies!

A small building seemed to be the location for tickets, not far past the original ticket booth. (Further research showed this to be true, but the current owners use the original ticket booth!)

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Inside the theater, there is a paved roadway for the entrance and to the exit, as well as around the projection booth. The car parking/viewing area was covered in grass. The projection booth was standard concrete, white with colored polka dots. There were openings for the projector to project the movies onto the large CinemaScope screen.

The screen is always one of my favorite aspects to photograph. Along the top of the screen, there was either speakers or lights. Under and slightly behind the screen was a small building. I’m unsure the purpose, but photographed it anyway.

Finally, the EXIT sign guided us off the property for the day. Random side note, we took our photos of the marquee on our way out.

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There were a few piles of trash around the property – not too unusual for older theaters.

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Mahoning Drive-In Theatre

635 Seneca Rd

Lehighton, PA 18235

 

 

References and Further Reading:

Official Website: http://mahoningdit.com/

News articles on Brannon: http://www.route66news.com/2012/06/18/who-is-the-teepee-drive-ins-new-operator/, http://www.route66news.com/2013/05/11/teepee-drive-ins-former-operator-resurfaces-in-pennsylvania/, http://wnep.com/2013/05/10/excitement-turns-to-concern-for-drive-in-trying-to-stay-open/

Article on new owners: http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/movies/20150717_Temple_grads_run__open-air_nostalgia_palace__drive-in_theater.html

www.carload.com

http://www.cinematreasures.org

Big Pocono Outdoor Theater FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/bigpocono/

Article about documentary film on the Mahoning DI: http://republicanherald.com/news/documentary-to-tell-story-of-mahoning-drive-in-1.2252034

 

The Moonlite Comes Back to Life! (Opening Soon!)

For Christmas, I unwrapped my very own pair of drive-in speakers and stand! My husband came through with an amazing gift, and linked me to a fun Facebook page as well.

While browsing the recent posts, I came across some photos of the Moonlite Drive-In Theatre in West Wyoming, Pennsylvania – BEING RENOVATED! The Borough Council accepted the purchase of the drive-in by Eric Symeon and approved a variance for the land to become a drive-in again earlier this year.

I hope some of the memorabilia Mr. Symeon found in the buildings will be put on display – I almost wish I had withstood the heat and bugs to browse the property more when we were there!

Best of luck and well wishes during the renovations – the marquee already looks 110% better and only good things can happen from here on out! 3 Cheers for another drive-in theatre brought back to life (Coming: Spring 2018!).

**Make sure to check out my original post about the Moonlite Drive-In! 

Look Closely…

Look closely and you’ll see a glimpse of the past. Photo: September 1, 2017.
Shore Drive-In, Ocean City,  MD.

Check out the link for the marquee minus the foliage!

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/11088
See previous post for full details on this drive -in! Shore Drive-In (Closed, MD)

Shore Drive-In (Closed, MD)

Our Visit (November 2014):

We love to take day-trips and have surprise date days. One of these took us to Assateague Island State Park and Ocean City, Maryland. As always, I saw an opportunity to visit an abandoned drive-in! In this case it was Ocean City’s Shore Drive-In Theatre, a couple miles off the island.

 

There was a bit of traffic, but we knew the general area of the marquee. After we parked an got out on foot to explore, I couldn’t help but think about the tourists visiting Ocean City. Hundreds – maybe more – passed the marquee covered in tangled weeds and plants without a second glance.

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Red, green, and white stripes were still visible along the 2 sides of the marquee, but the rest was mere rusted metal. Where words once announced the featured films, only bars remained. Looking underneath, you can see the wires and connections that once held bright white lights to illuminate the marquee.

 

Beyond the marquee there was so much more to be seen! Even after almost 40 years, nature, the elements, and vandals could not completely destroy visible remnants of the drive-in.

Various building pieces remained – a wooden structure that lay crumbled on its side, the ticket booth, speaker poles with torn bases, and the screen. The screen is always my favorite piece of a drive-in that has been left behind. Their resilience amazes me.

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The screen held a large lattice of wooden pieces as the backing. Larger slats of wood lay across the lattice horizontally where the movies once shone. Vines and trees intertwined with the lattice. My favorite piece of the screen was the ladder in the back, against one of the wooden poles, leading to the screen.

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Everything was very overgrown, but it was manageable to navigate. As always – be careful, be considerate, and do not leave any physical imprint.

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History:

The Shore Drive-In Theatre opened in 1954 and lasted for 22 years, closing in 1976. The Salisbury Times has advertisements starting in 1954 through ’76. In March of 1956, the Baltimore Sun reported that the court ruled the drive-in must be closed on Sundays.

 

Besides this bit of information, I could not find the owners/operators of the theatre, why it closed, or the types of movies it ran. Several people online reported that there was a flea market on the property after it closed. The property is currently for sale as a commercial property, listed for $800,000.

 

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Shore Drive-In:                                                         11906 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City, MD 21842

 

 

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.

 

Point 3 Drive-In (Open, PA)

Our Visit (September 21, 2015):

This was our first drive-in theater where we were allowed to, and brought!, our dog, Max! Needless to say, I was excited about this aspect right from the start. I had seen photos of drive-ins with tail-wagging dogs in the background, but had yet to experience this side of the drive-in. We made a night of our trip – visiting Centralia, PA to explore a Weird Pennsylvania article location, drove by the Laurel Drive-In in Hazleton, PA (post to come eventually – we went there the previous year!), and went to the Point 3 Drive-In.

We arrived early so I could take photos of the outside pieces – marquee, back of the main screen, drive-way…the usual. The Point 3 has old ticket booths at the tree border, marking the entrance. The ticket booths are no longer used, but serve a taste of nostalgia. As you pass through the ticket booths (overhand present!), the block of pine trees to your left clear out to expose the expansive drive-in.

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Following the drive-way, cars approach the back end of the snack bar. This serves as the ticket booth, advertised by a neon sign. Our screen (#3) was to our far right. Both Screen 2 and 3 lots are covered in grass. When we first came in, I wondered about parking for the movie. Lanes nor spacers were marked – only the slight incline for optimal viewing indicated the parking locations. I needn’t worry – my husband chose a perfect spot, and it was not overly crowded (yes…a wedding over the summer kept me away from blogging!).

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Max and I explored the grounds while Dan set up the back of the jeep with the blankets, pillows, etc. Max was drawn towards the snack-bar (of course), but no dogs allowed inside. We saw an elevated seating area, with overhead coverage, next to the snack bar, and some picnic benches on the other side. There was a slide and play-set to the left of Screen 1, which is always neat to see (I think it really shows the focus on children and families!).

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Our food was good – typical snack-bar snacks. The soda was self-serve, a first I had seen at a drive-in. Our movies were good – “Pixels” and “Trainwreck” – the adult movie set out of the three screen choices. Most cars left after “Pixels,” but then again, most of the cars had children.

All in all, it was a fun evening and we were glad to be there for their last night of the season!

 

History:

The Point 3 Drive-In was originally called the Arrow Drive-In Theatre, opening between 1952 and 1953 in Danville, Pennsylvania. According to Billboard (June 21, 1952), the drive-in opened in summer of 1952. Harold E. Bell opened the drive-in with the help of Allied Booking and Buying Service. By September 13, 1952, Billboard reported that new lamps were installed at the drive-in. By May 30, 1953, Bell resigned from his other theater management position at College Theater in Bethlehem to manage the Arrow Drive-In. Bell seemed to have been a theater advocate, being a manager of regular Berwick theaters up until 1950, and also a salesman of Perkins Theatre Supply Co from 1952-55.

The name change timeframe is uncertain, occurring sometime between 1955 and 1958. The Theatre Catalog lists the drive-in as the Arrow Drive-In in 1955, and the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures lists the drive-in as the Point Drive-In in 1958. While running under the name of Arrow Drive-In, the theater had one screen. This continued through 1966 at least (via Historic Aerials). By 1993, historic aerials seems to show 3 screens.

David Renn is the current owner and has been for the past 27 years (Renn, in person, 9/21/2015). Prior to Renn it seems that Cinecom Theatre ran the Point, after Comerford Theaters was in charge and sold out to them in the late 1960s. Looking into these theater companies does not bring out any connections to the drive-in, although they are associated with local theaters.

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Point 3 Drive-In Theatre Route 11 & Northumberland-Da Hwy Danville, PA 17821

 

The First Drive-In Theatre (EVER!) – June 6, 1933

 The date: June 6, 1933.

The place: Pennsauken Township, NJ.

The person: Richard Milton Hollingshead, Jr.

The company: Park-In Theaters, Inc.

The event: The first drive-in theater – Automobile Movie Theatre – opened!

 

For me, June 6 is a special date because it is the original date of the drive-in!

 

Hollingshead actually applied for the patent for his drive-in on August 6, 1932, and was granted his patent on May 16, 1933. Before all this, Hollingshead was looking into creating something, not just heading up a business.

 

After several ideas, Hollingshead began testing out projecting a movie onto a screen and watching from a car. He did this in his backyard, putting the projector on the hood of his car, facing a sheet nailed to a tree. He even tried out bad weather options by putting on a sprinkler! Of course there were challenges, such as seeing past the car in front of you. However, with his own design of ramps and distance, to stagger the view, he was able to figure it all out.

 

Many accounts will say the drive-in was located in Camden, NJ; however, it was just over the border of Camden and in Pennsauken Township.  The Automobile Move Theatre was close to Philadelphia and served many communities. One of the draw-ins was that you could watch a movie, even if you were obese! An ad from a newspaper showed a large woman trying to get to her seat in a theater, with a caption saying she would have no trouble at the drive-in.

 

Hollingshead’s drive-in did not last … either 1935 or 1936 (unsure of exact year) Hollingshead sold his theater and it “moved” to Union, NJ. Besides not getting a lot of profits, Hollingshead fought over his patent and other drive-ins that were opening. He was not receiving royalties from other drive-ins that were using his design. A few different court cases were brought up. Eventually, the US Supreme Court denied the petition. Hollingshead did receive some royalties, but the exact amount is unknown.

 

Our Visit (1/12/13):
Unfortunately, there aren’t any remains of the original drive-in. Here are some photos of the current location, but nothing special to show! For old photos of the first drive-in, check out the following links:

Also, if you are seriously interested in the history of the drive-ins, check out the book “Drive-In Theaters; a history from their inception in 1933” by Kerry Seagrave. It is loaded with facts and research covering any and all drive-in topic (that was my source for most of the information on this post!). “The American Drive-In Movie Theatre” by Don and Susan Sanders is a shorter text covering similar information if you want something less intense.

 

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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