Sandpoint Drive-In

477955 U.S. Highway 95,
Ponderay, ID 83852

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Motor Movie

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Sandpoint Drive-In

The start of construction of a new drive-in in the Sandpoint/Ponderay area was announced in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on November 2, 1951. The theatre was to be built by L.H. Weskil, the son of F.C. Weskil who built the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint in 1927. It was said to be one of the most unusual theatres in the Northwest because it was being built to take advantage of the “natural beauty of the site". It would incorporate evergreen trees and native growth for the borders instead of the usual concrete and wood.

With the design work by the B.F. Shearer Company of Seattle the Motor Movie, as it was then called, opened on July 11, 1952 with James Stewart in “Broken Arrow”. The future mayor Floyd Gray was manager. The Chronicle said 1,000 people enjoyed opening night with the mountains and forest serving as a backdrop. It was said that the 360-car capacity could be increased to 600 if needed. The drive-in was listed in the International Motion Picture Almanac under the Saffles circuit until 1976.

Contributed by Ron Pierce

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

jwmovies on September 11, 2016 at 2:02 am

Correction: 477955 U.S. Highway 95.

Kenmore on November 6, 2018 at 10:08 am

Today, the property is a private residence. You can still see the outline, ramps, and screen foundation clearly.

A building of the same size and shape sits in the same location as the projector booth/concession stand, but does not have the typical holes found with such a building. So, it may be the same, remodeled, or a whole new building.

davidcoppock on November 10, 2018 at 1:05 am

Opened with three colour cartoons(not named), and “Broken arrow”.

jodylee92 on November 10, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Correction: My father, Dale A Lee was the first manager of the Motor Movie Drive-In. I have newspaper clippings and flyers from the Drive-In to prove it. Plus I was there. Mayor Gray became manager later, early 60s.

I have corrected this before. Please change your records.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on November 10, 2018 at 7:55 pm

jodylee92..Do you have anymore pictures of the drive-in to share?

jodylee92 on November 10, 2018 at 8:50 pm

I have 1956 flyer for the fall season saying “Thank you for a wonderful season” at the Motor Movie Drive-In. Other side has my Dad’s name and the date. I also have a newspaper clipping from when Dad resigned the Panida and Motor Movie to form Sandpoint Realty and Insurance. Not clear on how to add those files, or if you’d want them.

Dad had lots of funny stories from the Motor Movie days and the promotions he did to get people out there. He still talked about it when he was 100.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on November 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

The flyer would be could scan it and put it on your desk top. In the photos section where it says add photo. Just click on that and find it on your desktop and submit it. Or you could take picture of it and put that on your desk top. Do same thing..

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