Lights Out: Abandoned American Drive-Ins
Pymatuning Lake Drive-In
When this Ohio movie theater first opened in 1950, it was called the Shane Drive-In, and it could accommodate up to 500 cars at a time. In 1980, well after most drive-ins had already closed, this theater got a makeover and a new name, becoming the Pymatuning Lake Drive-In.
There were still regular movie screenings happening here every summer until 2015, when it unfortunately closed just after undergoing a brand new, patriotic paint job. Now, the red, white, and blue screen remains, but there are no movies being shown anymore. It functions as a location for a weekly neighborhood flea market.
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Of the thousands of drive-ins that existed in the United States in the last half of the 20th century, a large chunk of them were named either “Starlite” or “Starlight” since the connection between Hollywood stars and the night stars was just too alluring. This particular Starlite Drive-In is located in Schertz, Texas, and although the screen tower is gone, the beautiful marquee and ticket booth are still visible from the road. The ticket booth is boarded up, but it’s a great reminder of the past on the edge of a modern housing development.
One last drive-in that features a Native American motif is the Chief Drive-In theater of Topeka, Kansas. It was built in 1953, and remained in operation until 1982, when it was closed to make room for an incoming Walmart. The Walmart executives preserved as much of the theater as they could. They kept the old porcelain and neon marquee up when the store opened in 1993. It’s still there now, with a plaque from the Kansas State Historical Society explaining its importance.