Hillsboro Drive-In

3306 West Hillsborough Avenue,
Tampa, FL 33614

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Showing 1 - 25 of 51 comments

davidcoppock on October 20, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Also opened with selected shorts(not named). The apartment complex is called Tuscany Point condominiums.

falcon1947 on July 29, 2015 at 5:18 pm

I worked at the hillsbororugh drive in I have a picture of the concession stand the manager of the theatre was mike mckenny and billy white took his place I worked there a lot of years I also changed the marquee and repaired the speakers.

LarryFM on December 1, 2014 at 3:52 am

FASCINATING information concerning the Hillsboro! Concerning the underground speakers, would anyone here have any additional information about them, please? I can tell everyone here that there were a few other drive-in theatres in Texas that used a similar sound system at around the same time before, during, and not too long after World War II.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on September 9, 2013 at 10:55 pm

Thanks Don. I remember Lakeland also had the Filmland Drive-In. I visited the Filmland’s lot around 1992 and the only structures still standing were the box office with a caved-in roof and the bare remnants of a marquee. At about the same time the Hillsboro was being dismantled the Fun-Lan was adding a second screen. I thought for certain the Hillsboro had sold their screen to the Fun-Lan but instead they had installed a new but much smaller screen. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago.

Lyman on September 6, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Hi Nick, I don’t remember much about the demolition of the screen. I did most of my work in the concession stand. I would think the loudspeakers were used before the underground speakers. I can see why they would change to the underground because of the delay of the sound in the back of the drive-in. In the photo of the wooden screen I did not see the speakers on the corners. But they were about one half visable and they had some kind of tar covering the exposed part. In my later life I became a photographer of sorts. I took pictures on most jobs I worked on. I wish I had started back then. I don’t know what happened to the screen. I’m sure it was scraped. And yes the block screen was built over the wooden screen. I remember a screen at a drive-in here in Lakeland that was made of plywood, you could see the 4 by 8 sheets that were a little warped after years of use. I think it was the Lakeland Drive-in on south fla Ave. It could have been the Silver Moon.One other thing about getting old, you forget a lot also. Don

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on September 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm

The original concrete block screen was just slightly wide but not real scope. A new curved screen installed in 1969 was wider and much closer to scope. Under the photos tab there’s an article about the closing of the Hillsboro along with a photo showing the wider screen. Standard flat films were shown with several feet of blank screen on each side. For scope films the image filled the screen with hardly any overthrow off the sides. Directly behind the screen stood the white indoor theatre building. If a large portion of the image had projected off the sides it certainly would’ve been very noticeable on the building. Occasionally on scope films a very small amount of light would sometimes be visible on the building off each side of the screen but very minimal. Of all the drive-ins in Tampa the 20th Century had the only true CinemaScope screen.

Mikeoaklandpark on September 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Did this drive in have a screen large enough o sow true scope films? The other drive ins in Tamps area didn’t and a film in scope was off the side of the screen in the bushes very frustrating.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on September 5, 2013 at 9:27 am

Just about every time we arrived at the drive-in I’d head for the children’s playground. My mother would usually be standing nearby or sitting on the benches. But once the movie began we always headed back to the car. I wonder if anyone remembers the rabbit cages behind the trees at the base of the screen. Kids would sometimes feed the rabbits through the wire grating. This was probably around the mid-to-late 1950s.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on September 4, 2013 at 8:09 am

Immediately in front of the screen was a grassy fenced children’s play area with some very simple play equipment and several park-type benches for the children to watch the movies. The children loved to go up there to play and watch the movie. Sometimes a parent or two would walk up there to keep an eye on things, but for the most part, the area was unsupervised by adults. Since it was an outdoors area, there were obviously loudspeakers located in that area for the children. I have fond memories of that area.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on September 3, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Darrenparlett: I love this page too!

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on September 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Thanks Don. This is very interesing. An article on the closing of the Hillsboro mentions the drive-in originally had a plywood screen which I found hard to believe. But I guess it’s true. An old photo of the lot shows individual speakers in the ground and an opening day article mentions sound emerging from several underground speakers scattered throughout the lot. I wonder if the speaker you have was also utilized for the film’s soundtrack or maybe used as a backup. Your speaker has to be a collector’s item! Any idea if the screen in the photo showing the in-ground speakers is the original plywood screen? If so then the block screen was built over this one.

Sad to hear the in-car speakers were sold for scrap although this probably happened with just about every closing drive-in. I wish I had an original Hillsboro window speaker today. Amusing story about removing the poles and cement bases! I doubt they’re still buried at the rear of the property. They were probably dug up once the land was excavated and cleared for construction of the apartment complex. Any idea what happened to the screen? I’m guessing it too was demolished although it may have been dismantled for use at another drive-in.

Lyman on September 1, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Remembering the Hilsboro Drive-in. I was born in Tampa in 1940, moved to south of Lakeland in 1947. Around 1969 I worked for a company that remodeled the Hilsboro drive-in. I did enjoy working there. I remember the big concrete block screen. The reason I am posting is I have a big loudspeaker, it was sticking out of an old wooden screen that the block screen was built over. There were two speakers, one on the top corner of the screen. They were built into the screen with about ½ half sticking out. I had both speakers, but being young and dumb I broke the magnet in one of them. It went to the scrap pile. The one I have weighs 50 pounds, it is about 41 in tall and about 20 in across the output. It is the biggest loudspeaker I have ever seen. And it still works! I saw your post after I moved the speaker from one place to another, as I have for the last 40 something years. I googled the drive-in. I found a lots of old tickets and other some other stuff. All of that stuff has been long gone, sorry to say. We dug all the window speakers out of the ground and put the post and big concete anchors in holes dug in back of the drive-in. I remember that well because I drove the dump truck to take them there. The concrete peices were to big to come out of the tailgate of the 5 yard dump truck. I guess you can guess what happened next. It was like the old comedy movie when the truck stood straight up. I had to climb down and walk back to tell the boss. He thought it was funny. I know this will hurt some people, myself inclued, we took the speakers to the scrap yard on Hy 60, I don’t remember the name of the place, I think they are stil there. They sold for what we thought was a good deal. I think it was eleven dollars or a little more. I remember spending 2 days on my knees chipping the old tile off the concesion stand. I even enjoyed painting the block wall at the entrance with Olive Green paint. I remember when we finished the job the owner came down and we had hot dogs with Sauerkraut. I don’t remember his name.

It is kind of funny how when you get my age you remember all sorts of stuff. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Don.
Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on October 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

falcon3147, Great hearing from a former employee. I had applied for a job at both the drive-in and the new indoor in 1969 but they never called me. The drive-in and the rocking chair theatre were Tampa’s best showplaces at the time. I wish they were both still here. Yes, the indoor theatre had its grand opening with “The Undefeated.” A beautiful theatre that lasted about 9 years before it was ruined by twinning.

hispeed54, Appreciate the nice comment…thanks!

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on September 28, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Good overview Nick!!

falcon3147 on September 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I worked at the Hillsborough drive in theatre for many years it was very nice. also the first movie shown in the hillsborough walk in theatre was the undefeated john wayne and rock hudson.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Thanks Nick.I guess aerials are all we have on so many theatres.

Nunzienick on April 13, 2011 at 12:47 am

Here’s a current aerial of the property as it looks today. The building at the top center is the former Hillsboro Eight Cinemas (now Century Buick Dealership.)
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pcfousj on April 12, 2011 at 8:17 am

Nick, I emailed you some after views of the drive-in’s, maybe you can post along with the old views

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on April 11, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Wonderful pictures! I note that Himes Ave. (to left of drive-in) wasn’t yet extended north of Hillsborough Ave.

Nunzienick on April 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Here are two slightly different aerials dated 1957:
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Nunzienick on September 25, 2010 at 12:39 am

Dick: Thanks for the nice trip down memory lane! By the time I began going to the Hillsboro on my own, most of the forested and swamp land had disappeared. I would usually drive north on Himes Avenue which was also a two-lane country-like road at the time (from Columbus Drive all the way to Hillsborough Avenue.) After passing Jeusit High School I’d began seeing short glimpses of the screen in the wooded area on the right as I was approaching Hillsborough Avenue. Yes, it was very exciting! When I travel down Himes today and look towards that area all I see are apartment buildings where the drive-in once was. Thank goodness we have our memories!

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on September 24, 2010 at 11:43 am

When the Hillsboro Drive-In was opened, Dale Mabry Highway (single-lane each way) went no further north than Hillsborough Avenue. The landscape between Buffalo Ave. (now ML King Blvd.) and Hillsborough Ave. was a combination of forested areas and open swamp-like areas with ponds surrounded by rings of cypress trees.

When our family drove north on Dale Mabry to the drive-in, there was one place (about half-way between Buffalo and Hillsborough) where you could look across the swamp and see the distant lighted screen of the theatre. (Closer to Hillsborough Ave., the forest obscured the view.) When we saw that screen from Dale Mabry, we were excited because we knew the theatre was waiting for us!

Nunzienick on September 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Finally! I thought I’d never find this photo. Here’s a very nice large shot of the lot taken shortly after opening in 1941. Note the in-ground speakers:
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