South Chester Drive-In

3863 S. Chester Avenue,
Bakersfield, CA 93304

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

present site of the So. Chester    2012

The Drive-In was opened on August 14, 1945 with Jimmy Lydon in “When the Lights Go On Again” & Stuart Erwin in “The Great Mike”. It was renamed South Chester Drive-In in 1949. It was closed in the early-1980’s and torn down in 1982. It was Bakersfield’s first drive in. My dad, Jeff Lewis, was co-owner. A truck rental and self storage unit are now on the site.

In later years, Jeff Lewis and his partners built the 99 Drive-In and also bought out the Terrace Drive-In. They owned three drive-in’s total.

Contributed by william lewis

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on September 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Have any pictures to share?

CSWalczak on September 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

There are some pictures of this drive-in on its gallery page at

william lewis
william lewis on September 11, 2012 at 5:34 am

Your street view is all WRONG! The So.Chester was at Union Ave and south Chester Ave. I don’t know how to fix it!

william lewis
william lewis on November 16, 2012 at 8:32 am

For more photos,

jwmovies on December 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

Approx. address for this drive-in was 3863 South Chester Avenue. Now Lock Up!

davidcoppock on October 11, 2018 at 11:23 am

Opened on 14/8/1945 as Drive-in Theater(with no specific name) with “When the lights go on again” and “The Great Mike”. Renamed South Chester Drive-in in 1949. 600 cars. Closed in early 1980’s. Site is now Penske Truck Rental and lock-up 3 Self Storage.

MichaelKilgore on June 11, 2019 at 8:29 pm

From the July 9, 1949 issue of BoxOffice:

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. – Bakersfield’s first drive-in theatre, bought several months ago by Lloyd Miller and his associates William and Joe Gannon and Owen Clark, was reopened recently with new projection equipment, restrooms and an enormous snack bar.

The drive-in, located on South Chester avenue at the junction of Highway 99, popularly called “the busiest highway in the world,” was renamed the South Chester Drive-In, and is a companion theatre to the recently opened 99 Drive-In, located on the opposite side of town and also owned by Miller and his associates.

The South Chester has a 60-foot screen tower which dominates the lower end of the San Joaquin Valley, and is the first thing that can be seen by the thousands of cars that dip down from Fresno into the cotton and oil bowl.

The huge snack bar can serve 1,000 persons in 15 minutes with its rapid-service soft drink equipment and huge commercial popcorn poppers. RCA sound and projection equipment also was installed.

MichaelKilgore on June 7, 2021 at 10:47 am

As william lewis pointed out, the South Chester was at the other intersection of South Chester Blvd/Ave and US 99, the one on “the opposite side of town”, as Boxoffice put it. And mostly confirming jwmovies' note, I’d place the drive-in at the current feed and pet supply store there, at 3909 S Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93307.

Jamey_monroe45 on July 28, 2023 at 7:37 am

Now Lock Up III self storage @ 3863 S Chester Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93304.

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