Salem Drive-In

3520 W. Siebenthaler Avenue,
Dayton, OH 45406

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Additional Info

Architects: S. Herbert Taylor

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Salem Drive in 1963

After World War II on April 26, 1946, permission was given to build the Salem Drive-In by the Civilian Production Administration(CPA). Created in November 1945, the CPA took over the functions of the War Production Board and was intended to manage the orderly transition to full peacetime industrial production. The CPA had the authority to expand production needed materials, limit production of unnecessary products involving scarce resources, and prevent hoarding.

The Salem Drive-In opened on August 15, 1946 screening the 1944 comedy-musical “Greenwich Village” featuring Don Ameche, Carman Miranda & William Bendix. In addition to the feature film was a cartoon and first run newsreel. The new drive-in was opened by Robert and Richard E. Gump and Paul Swinger. Robert & Richard Gump were the president & vice president of the Farmers and Citizen Bank of Trotwood. Paul Swinger was the manager of the new drive-in. Eventually Harry D. Good would become the manager of the drive-in. The drive-in was built by Leslie Judd who was a well known contractor and builder of the Salem Drive-In and also the Belmont Drive-In. The car capacity was 400 cars with in-a-car speakers and featuring DeVry projectors. The concession stand and the projection building were in separate buildings. In March of 1954, Paul Swinger was the manager and in 1960 Fred J. Krimm was the buyer and booking agent. Starting in 1961, Tri-State Theatres from Cincinnati, OH was the buyer & booking agent.

The Salem Drive-In was sold in November of 1960 for $250,000 to the Dayton Salem Drive-In Corporation (aka Levin Services and Emprise-Sportservice). Emprise Sportservice was owned by Louis M. Jacobs and later by his sons. They operated the popcorn & candy concessions at Levin Services Theatres. Emprise-Sportservice operated the concessions at drive-in theatres and sports arena around the country. The company had been known to have dubious business practices over the years. Charles McCartney was the projectionist in May of 1964. On July 24, 1966, the screen tower caught fire causing $50,000 of damage and the storage area beneath it was another $2,000. The fire started when high voltage power lines burned out under the wooden floor at the base of the screen tower. Bob Smith, theatre manager, said repairs would take about three weeks. “Only three weeks ago, the screen received intensive repairs”, he noted. Apparently the damage done was not as bad as when it was first reports. They reopened August 11, 1966.

On September 25, 1983, the Salem Drive-In screened “Octopussy” starring Roger Moore & “The Hunger” starring Catherine Deneuve & David Bowie, and went dark for good!! The property was cleared and a Kroger Store was built on the property.

Contributed by Ken Roe, Randy Studer

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Any photos or more info?

It MIGHT have been operated by Levin Services?

rivest266 on March 31, 2018 at 10:24 am

This opened on August 15th, 1946. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

TomMc11 on December 17, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Looks like the old entrance/exit drive still exists right next to what appears to have been a Burger Chef at one point in time.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on June 9, 2022 at 4:33 pm

GPS: 39.796963, -84.246184

Kenmore on June 9, 2022 at 9:43 pm

The drive-in remained intact in a 1985 aerial, but the screen was gone by 1994. The rest of the drive-in was still present in 2000, but the property was redeveloped by 2004.

In addition to part of the entrance/exit road, there is a rectangular outline where the screen once stood. Some of the footings which appear in the 2000 aerial may still be present under the brush.

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